|Illustration by Stephen Gammell|
When I first decided to make the jump from contemporary and try my hand at horror, I wasn't exactly interested in writing my own scary short stories. I felt like the couple of days it'd take to write one up and polish it was precious time wasted, time that could and should have gone toward adding some quality word count to my horror novel.
But here's the thing.
Writing at all, whatever it is, is never time wasted. People often state that writing is like a muscle, and the more you use it, the better it will work, and the stronger it will be. And while short stories most certainly exist outside of horror, I very much believe that scary short stories can add an especially powerful punch to your novel writing.
Scary short stories cut out most of the contemporary aspect that is so very important in your horror novel, leaving you with nothing but endless creative freedom of scary, scary, and more scary. And as a result from exploring all of these potential Creepies, you'll notice that your eye for inspiration from everyday life will be much more keen, allowing you to come up with fresh, new ideas much easier than before.
In my own experience, taking some extra time aside from the usual writing block to indulge in a scary short or two does absolute wonders for my novel writing, for reasons listed above. And if you aren't the kind of person who enjoys working on two things at once, use your in-between time wisely. (You know that in-between time I'm talking about--when your agent or beta reader is checking out your latest draft and you've got a couple of weeks to kill.)
Ever since I started writing my own scary short stories and gathering inspiration for future ones, brainstorming my way through some major road bumps in my current WIP has become not only easier, but more effective in the end as well.
Do you like reading scary short stories? Have any favorite anthologies?