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How to Write Tales of Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Robinson Publishing
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1854870785
  • ISBN-13: 978-1854870780
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 141 g
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9dcd06f8) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0c152f4) out of 5 stars The parts that are good are excellent Feb. 11 2002
By Blake Petit - Published on
Format: Paperback
This wonderful book is easily the most helpful thing I've ever read for the horror author. In essence, it is a collection of essays from various writers about writing speculative fiction and dark fantasy, with chapters by the likes of Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch and Charles Grant. Much of the lessons do apply to Sci-Fi/Fantasy as well, although if that's your concentration I would recommend Orson Scott Card's "How to Write Science Fiction" before this.
The book is a brisk read right up until the chapter on the psychology of horror fiction which, frankly, reads like it was written by a psychologist. It was boring, tedious and felt very out of place among so many good essays.
The only other problem is the chapter at the end that supposedly helps you get published. While I'm sure it was quite helpful at the time it was written (in the mid-1980s), many of the publications it lists are now defunct and many of the practices have changed. It's not a bad section, it is simply past its time.
Regardless, for those who want to learn how to write horror from those who have done it, this book is well worth reading.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0c15348) out of 5 stars Excellant Jan. 5 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
THE book on genre writing. Filled with pertinent and insightful information. Features writing advice from the likes of Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, Marion Zimmerman Bradley and Charles L. Grant. Buy it with Mort Castle's "Writing Horror" and Stanley Wiater's "Dark Thoughts On Writing". An inspirational book. Buy it you won't be sorry.
18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0c1551c) out of 5 stars Kind of general... Aug. 15 2004
By Michael Valdivielso - Published on
Format: Paperback
The book is the edited work of 26 writers, teachers and editors. The chapters are small, the details slim, the subjects bounce all over the place, and many of the rules and advice could be used by mystery or military writers. It was just too weak, telling me nothing that I couldn't guess at. If you want a solid piece of work about sci-fi/fantasy get the how-to-write books by Orson Scott Card. If you want just fantasy there are world building books by Gary Gygax. And if you want to learn about horror go to Stephen King. Go with the books that have the vision of one author, from the first page to the last.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0c15b40) out of 5 stars Interesting Concept, but Poor Execution June 28 2011
By Julia M Nolan - Published on
Format: Paperback
The premise for this book sounded great! The whole idea is, gather a bunch of published science fiction and fantasy authors and get them to give their advice. Unfortunately, the advice varied a lot, with only one or two of the essays being particularly useful. (And some were totally useless - market conditions in 1987 just aren't the same as those in the present day, and half the magazines they mentioned are gone.) Some of the world building ideas were interesting, but in general, authors seemed to go on and on about what worked for them, rather than what might work for a modern author. (And some of the tips were really dated. Like, one of the suggestions was that "female characters don't need to be damsels in distress"? Yeah, anyway, I think that most modern writers know that. Moving on...)

It also bothered me that it was structured as "two pages of article, ten pages of short story". (Especially as most of the short stories weren't all the great, IMHO, and most didn't really illustrate the point that the essay prior to them was trying to make.) I felt suckered in by "how to write", when the book was, to be honest, more of a short story collection than a book on writing.

Probably the only bit I'd highly recommend (which might be worth a library check out) is the chapter by J. N. Williamson (who I've never heard of, but who edited the book) on "Plotting as your Power Source". He offered some really good advice on how to plot out novels, which was worth reading. But I'm not sure that I'd pay money for one article that I liked.
HASH(0xa0c15b64) out of 5 stars A messy collage, dated and with not much of use April 15 2012
By Dragonslayer - Published on
Format: Paperback
My guess is that the editor (or possibly the publisher) had the idea for this book and then asked a lot of F/SF/horror writers to write "something" for it. Only a few of the authors appear to actually have anything to say about writing. Many reminisce about their own first sales, way back in the day. In some cases they give examples of their own work that, by today's standards, seem embarrassingly bad. (Tastes change.) But anyway, this golden-age advice was probably outdated even when the book was first published in 1987.

There may be a few tidbits here for the inexperienced writer who hasn't already read them elsewhere or figured them out for him/herself. But it's a lot of slogging to find them.

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