WiHM 2023: Reading for Writing Inspiration

Reading for Writing Inspiration

Some of my fave horror writers disclose their go-to’s for inspiration.

By Shelly Lyons

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. ” ― Raymond Chandler

While deep into the second draft of my first novel, Like Real, I got stuck. Not quite debilitating, but circling that territory, and no amount of brainstorming or power walking could free me from this one-way ticket to complete story paralysis. What I’d written so far had a workable structure, some fine set pieces and good dialogue. The problem had become a seemingly unending debate about whether some details were persnickety versus essential. Was I telling or showing? Were my words stilted and/or derivative? I’d written screenplays before, but screenplays are bare bones critters, and I needed to add some flesh—but not too much—into a story that demanded more interiority, depth and detail.

It was too much! I’d lost control! If you’ve read my essay on the writing of the book, you’ll know my need for personal control is why I failed as a drug user and liquor imbiber, and why my favorite Universal Horror Monster is The Wolfman, who loses control through no fault of his own. I don’t mind zig-zagging through a maze, but I prefer having the end of it in mind as I voyage.