3* Review of ‘Horror Writing 101:How to Write a Horror Novel’ by Steve French

3* Review of ‘Horror Writing 101:How to Write a Horror Novel’ by Steve French



I found there to be some really useful things in this book – which is good as I was hoping for some ideas for my current work in progress. Although I’ve written a few “scary stories” it’s always good to take stock sometimes and go back to the basics for some practice and to help generate new ideas. There are some useful practical tools in there. For example, the character sheets. These are a good prompt for those at the beginning of a project. They’re a prompt really but why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to? If someone has a planning tool that works I’m a believer in giving it a try or modifying it. There are also some useful lists (okay, quite a lot actually) of things that can help you build character and setting.  A good example is a long list of hair colours, or potential settings. I’m sure that these will be really useful for writers who may be struggling or simply want a hand in visualising their characters of who want a prompt. At times I questioned if this helped navigate the dark  art of ” showing not telling”.  If I was to describe this book, I’d say it’s a good resource of nouns. A such, it’s probably a good tool for newbie writers and is quicker to read than a thesaurus. On the other hand,  I do feel it would have benefited from spending some more time on writing technique. Strangely, there’s a whole section at the end on self publishing. This might be useful to some but it did feel a little out of place for me.

Now for the tough bit…

The thing that really narked me throughout was consistently poor formatting. Given that this is a book about writing, with a large section on how to self publish well, this let the content down. This was mostly in the list sections which in my kindle edition were all over the place.  The tab spacing was difference, often with massive gaps between the number and the first word. Some words were capitalised and others weren’t and while that is something I can sometimes overlook, in a writers craft book I simply can’t.

Overall, this isn’t a bad read and as it’s free on Kindle Unlimited, it’s not a bad tool for the novice writer. It will give you some things to think about and provide an idea of the scope and scale of a writing project. However, I hate to say it was the formatting rather than the content itself which let it down for me. I’m not sure if this is just the way it turned up on my kindle, so I would be keen to hear if other readers have found the same.

You might want to look at Writing Dark Stories by Rayne Hall or Writing Scary Scenes by Rayne Hall

Helen Treharne

I’m Helen Treharne, fiction author an creator of The Sophie Morgan Vampire Series. I live in South Wales with my husband, young son and rescue cat.
My books are available at all major digital retailers with soft back copies also available from Amazon, Createspace and other stores.
When I’m not writing fiction, I blog at www.WelshMumWriting.com, sharing my experiences of being a busy parent jugging working, writing, and more. Follow me there for my personal insights.

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