Since October is pretty much Halloween month, I thought it would be a good time to talk about writing horror, dark fantasy and thrillers … all great reading for this time of the month. In this “How to write horror” series, I’ll give you some tips on writing horror and how you can use the resources, settings and history of Long Beach to create your own local horror stories.
I started off this “How to write horror” series talking about villains … but every villain needs a hero, right? So that’s what I’m going to discuss today.
Pick your hero type
As with villains, your hero can be ordinary or special. What kind of hero do you want for your story? An ordinary person with no special powers beyond what an ordinary human can accomplish? Or someone who has supernatural abilities? If you choose the latter, will your hero have always been aware of these talents? Or will then suddenly be thrust upon him or her as the events unfold?
Will your hero be pure? Or have a touch of the dark side? I have to admit I have a preference for heros that aren’t pure, that have internal battles, that struggle with identifying right from wrong in an ambiguous world. It makes them more real, believable and relatable.
Give your hero a why
Why does your hero step up to the plate? What skin does he or she have in the game? Sometimes your hero’s motivation is simply to stay alive. At other times it is to protect something worth protecting. Of course, what is worth protecting for one person is not worth a bag of beans for another. Give your hero something to protect that your hero values and that your readers believe your hero values.
Make your hero three dimensional
Your hero is the foil to your villain and vice versa. They balance each other out. If one is over-developed in relation to the other, your story becomes unbalanced. Keep this in mind as you develop your characters. Yes, it is likely that one will be more developed than the other, depending on who you focus on … but there is still a balance to be maintained.
Resources for creating horror heros
- Do Werewolves Wear Shoes? Building Successful Horror Characters by Shaunna Privratsky
- Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Dr. Linda Edelstein
- Creating Characters: A Writer’s Reference to the Personality Traits That Bring Fictional People to Life by Howard Lauther
- 45 Master Characters by Victoria Schmidt
Long Beach horror heros
If your hero is an everyday person, what will their Long Beach connection be? Does she live here? Does he work here? Maybe her family hails from Signal Hill? Maybe his girlfriend lives North Long Beach. Giving your “ordinary” hero some familiar, local flavor anchors him or her in the real world and helps lend your hero credibility for the readers.
As with any urban area, Long Beach has its fair share of psychics. Will your hero be one of them? There are also several New Age/Wiccan stores that sell candles, crystals and more, such as Points of Light on Stearns Street or Goddess C.A.T. New Age Boutique on 4th Street. Maybe your hero stops by? Or, at least you could find some good research resources at these places.
And, of course, your horror story could take place right here in Long Beach … out in the open at the beach, or in some nook or cranny of a night club, alleyway or park. Use your imagination! Long Beach has plenty of settings and locations to offer your fertile, writer’s mind.
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NOTE: Are you a writer based in Long Beach? Please contact me … I’m going to start doing a series of profiles of local writers and I need to know who you are!