Review: Writing In The Dark by Tim Waggoner

Rating: 10/10

Synopsis

In this comprehensive textbook devoted to the craft of writing horror fiction, award-winning author Tim Waggoner draws on thirty years’ experience as a writer and teacher. Writing in the Dark offers advice, guidance, and insights on how to compose horror stories and novels that are original, frightening, entertaining, and well-written.

Review

As a starting writer working on a monster-horror novel, I’m always looking for books teaching how to improve my craft. And Tim Waggoner’s Writing in the dark didn’t disappoint. In fact, it was the first one I read focused on the Horror genre. When I started reading, I had just finished the first draft of my novel “From the mist”. I feel confident the 2nd draft will be that much better from the tips and tricks I learned from Tim. 

I typically read my how-to books with a highlighter. A few chapters in, I stopped underlining anything as the entire book would be purple. There is so much advice in each chapters I was constantly putting it down, taking notes or researching the references he uses to show his point. It literally felt as if I had my own personal teacher educating me on the foundations of great horror, and giving me a map of where to go next to further my education. In fact, this book can easily apply to several genres (Scifi, fantasy and suspense, for example) and guide a writer on his journey.

The book starts with basics on finding your reasons to write horror, how to twist the common into the uncommon or something new, horror subgenres, how to create your monster, the elements and structure of a good horror story, how to work with fear, pain and suspense and much more. Tim approaches every chapter with a story of his or examples to help us visualize the concepts explored, and it helps us assimilate the subject better — which is a pleasure to read about and learn from. To add the cherry on top, every chapter ends with exercises to help us better conceptualize these notions and put them in practice. Throughout the book, I couldn’t stop adding more novels and films recommended by Tim to my growing list of ‘to-read’. Anything recommended by him — based on the quality of the content in Writing in the Dark — is definitely worth exploring.

There is no doubt in my mind any writer starting out will get amazing value from Tim’s Writing in the Dark, especially if you’re telling stories in the horror/SciFi/Fantasy genre. Do yourself a favor and read it. 

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