I didn’t set out to write horror. I considered myself a young adult novelist. I wrote a full length young adult paranormal romance that got fairly good feedback from beta readers. I loved to write but I wasn’t invested in my work. I was writing, I was enjoying the process, but I never truly understood my characters or what they were going through.
A friend challenged me to write a short story for him. He was bored and wanted something new to read. I was intrigued by the idea and asked him to send me a prompt with genre. He chose horror. I laughed when I read the email, having never written horror before. I hadn’t ever been particularly interested in the genre when it came to movies or modern books, but I gladly accepted the challenge.
That’s when I realized how important genre is to writing. I became obsessed with my story, my characters springing to life beneath my fingers. For the first time, the story flowed through me and I became a conduit, not knowing the next step until it filled the page. It was brilliant. I enjoyed the process. The short story he requested became a full length novel. It led to research that taught me all sorts of new things. I even enjoyed the editing process. I was proud of what I passed along to my editors and excited to get their suggestions.
That feeling kept me writing. It became a thirst. I searched the depths of the internet for more opportunities to explore the genre. Word limits were a challenge I’ve come to enjoy. I’d never given myself such strict confines as though held by micro and flash fiction challenges. It turns out, when you focus on the point that you’re making instead of simply making the point, the words are much more eloquent. Each word has to have more meaning, each thought has to be essential to the end result. At first, I found myself exceeding the word limit by more than I’d like to admit. The plots were thin and had gaps that made it difficult to feel satisfied when you finished reading the piece. It was discouraging and I wanted to give up on short fiction. My editor reminded me that I have a massive vocabulary and to use it. It was rough feedback. I wanted her to automatically love any piece I sent her, but, in the end, it was just what I needed to hear. I started going through my flash pieces, cutting out phrases that could be better illustrated with one more effective word. It worked! My writing became more intense with fewer words and I discovered my voice.
Horror has been an interesting genre to pursue. The writing process is a bit different. It takes a million minute details sewn together to create an overall world in which the reader fears the next page, but is driven to read more. Each word, each phrase, is carefully crafted to tease the mind and ignite the senses. Horror requires the ability to create a false sense of security for the reader and the ability to take that security away at a given moment. The details drive the story more so than in other genres.
I didn’t set out to write horror, but it chose me. I love sharing my stories with the world. I am using the combination of my education in psychology and criminal justice to write something I truly love. No one is more surprised than I that my passion is horror and I can’t wait to see where it leads.
Meli Goodell is a single mother and avid reader. A southern girl in a Colorado world, by day she wrangles a team of enforcement inspectors, enjoying the quiet nights when she gets to explore her next story. Meli has been writing since she learned to spell, but has just recently pursued publication with three micro-fiction stories appearing in anthologies in 2017. She is currently in the submission process for her first novel, Salvagium, and hopes to write full-time someday soon. You can read more about Meli and her adventures in writing at www.meligoodell.com
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