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How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy and Science Fiction Reprint Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0898794830
ISBN-10: 0898794838
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Writers Digest Books; Reprint edition (July 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898794838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898794830
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Blake Petit VINE VOICE on February 11, 2002
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.
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By A Customer on January 5, 1998
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.
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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.
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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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you wish you could sit with the masters of speculative fiction (precursor to scifi and fantasy, and horror) then this is the IT book for you. Exceptional advice and the authors give you their favorite books to read which can only expand your imagination and lands not seen by man. Something wicked walks this way and I want it to have tea with me. Think of Karl Kolshack and Dark Shadows the original. A good primer if you want to tell scary stories around the camp fire.

AVC
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a collection of essays written by experts in their field. Most of the book deals with how to write, but there is at least one essay by an agent. There is a wealth of excellent information in this book.
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