Blood and Guts or Emotions

In her article explaining an upcoming editing workshop at Savvy Writers, Jill Elizabeth Nelson says–We’re going to have fun “getting violent” with our readers. They’ll love us for it! “But,” you say, “I’m writing a cozy mystery,” or, “My book is a relationship saga,” or “I’m penning the next great literary classic. The most violent event that takes place is a paper cut.” Then it’s time to learn a simple truth of our craft—outward violence in any genre is boring blood and gore if we omit the psychological and emotional impact that stirs our reader’s depths. A single sentence or paragraph of introspection can perform more emotional violence on our reader than pages of car chase or gun fight. Unless we engage our reader at their core, they are likely to close our book and lay it aside.

But wait a minute, I thought readers liked the action scenes of shoot ’em up, car chases, bombing, and paragraphs of blood and gore. And yet, another author told me she writes horror, but not the blood and guts kind poured out on the page, but rather horror through the emotion of primal fear.

First, I don’t read books of torture and gore. I couldn’t even read The Lovely Bones because it was told by a teen-age girl who was murdered. The writing was so well done, I couldn’t read it. Does that make sense? So how could I write a horror story? Sunshine Boulevard is a mystery/horror story. I wrote it using my pen name because noone would believe I wrote such a story. (And maybe a bit of hesitancy to let people know I could write such a book.) But as Ms. Nelson suggests, it is horror brought about through emotional suspense, not through blood and guts spewing throughout the work.

Ms. Nelson’s workshop is intriguing. I would love to take it but I will be traveling. I certainly hope she offers it again.

Savvy Authors is a website for all writers. I joined it and am learning my way around the many topics and information. So much to see and learn. Perhaps you would like to check it out.

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