Ron Edison's article "Put a Little Love in Your Life: The Perks and Perils of Romantic Subplots" -My characters only have scary, life destroying sex.
When I read Edison's article, my mind went in a TON of different directions. In the Character Goal section, I realized that the main focus of my novel was the notion of escape. Escape from danger, a bad relationship, the past. Just escape in general. But at the same time, I realized that at times its a little too Debbie Downer, and I do want something nice to happen to my character...eventually -- which is why I liked how at the end of this section, Edison wrote "they may just fall in love...or at least into bed." Now, I'll admit that I'm a pancer when it comes to writing, but I'm pretty sure that Rhea isn't going to fall in love and have a happy ending, but hey you never know... she may get some hot sex along the way? Wait.. can psych ward patients have sex? I suppose they can if it's with a ghost ;)
Susan Crandall's article: "Setting as a Character: It's more than a Backdrop:" Pick the setting that will maximize the conflict.
What I particularly liked about this article, is that the following two after it built on what it talked about -- setting and how to properly use it. Crandall talks a lot about how the little things sell the story -- such as "the nuances of the people, the feel of the air, the smells and the sounds." Then, right after this article, Jason Jack Miller goes on to talk about how concrete nouns and how they can strengthen a piece without all of the fluff (aka adjectives). Then, my favorite piece of advice that I incorporated into the idea of the setting came from Karen Lynn Williams: "One part of me is experiencing life and the other part stands back and asks, how can I use this information in my writing. It is a constant, this writer who is always looking over my shoulder taking in the details that will make my story authentic." So case and point -- you need to be believable. You need to know how the people are going to talk, what the landscape is like, and what the air smells like. These details will not only make your setting a character in itself, but will help to strengthen the authenticity of where you are writing about and how it is effecting your characters.
Michael A. Arnzen's article "Genre Unleashed:" KNOW YOUR GENRE. CLICHE'S ARE BAD.
What I really liked about this article is how empowering it was for genre writers. I remember when Dr. Arnzen and I had our first conversation about me wanting to write horror. He told me that before I could write horror that I had to learn the genre. Pick up a variety of authors in the market and read what they wrote. Read the classics (Dracula, Frankenstein, Psycho...etc) and watch horror movies. TONS of them. Even the really bad ones. So that's what I did. I read and watch horror like it's part of my job and ultimately I think it helps me to be a better writer because I have a pretty good idea of what's been done to death, what the cliches are, and how to stop that pesky cat from jumping on my character's shoulders when they least expect it. Case in point... do your homework. As a writer, you'll never stop learning. And you shouldn't want to.
Thomas F. Monteleone's article "No Such Thing as Original Sin:" Go out of your comfort level.
When I read this article, I had to laugh because I realized that no matter how many cliche's I could spit out about the horror genre, or how sick I was of seeing the same stereotypical gothic setting in a movie... that I still did it in my writing. Maybe not as blunt, but it's there. Trust me. One piece of Monteleone's article is now quoted and taped on my writing desk where I can see it every time I sit down to write : "Take the small-twon horror story and turn it inside out. Big city. Daylight. No fog. No moon." Just because it's horror doesn't mean it has to take place at night. And sometimes, even though I hate to admit it... I forget that.
Dana Marton's article "Creating my Niche in Romantic Suspense." Just do it.
I LOVED this article because it started so simply what a writer must do in order to be successful. Write. No matter if you get published the first dozen times or not. Just do it anyways because it makes you feel good. And in the end, when you finally land that contract, you'll find out that the growth from all those other pieces that you wrote was worth it in the end, thus making them even more successful in a way.
I did have one question though and I'm hoping that some of you folks can help answer this for me. In Marton's article, she mentions how she used to go through the Romantic Times and do research on what different publishing houses were looking for, who they sighned, what their submission guidelines were, etc. Is there something like this for Horror? I mean I don't expect to find Horrific Times Magazine... but maybe something similar?