PPW Workshop: Scaring Your Readers, Part II

A caveat: I tried to catch everything I could, but I missed a lot and paraphrased even more.

PPW: How can scaring your readers be combined with other genres?

CV: Horros can be found in anything; it's a trope rather than a genre. Like suspense. There's scaring someone versus grossing them out. Making readers think something bad is going to happen.

SRT: The word horror suggests an explosive reaction, but it's really part of being a normal human being. That anxiety exists in all fiction, and finding ways to deal with it.

PPW: What do you think about this quote from Tim Powers. [To wit, someone asked him about different themes that might be found in Dracula. He replied that Dracula was about a guy that bit people and lived forever.]

CV: I should tell you I have a Masters in English Literature. With any great literature, you'll find that it's like a mirror.

MT: Readers will find things you didn't know were there.

SRT: It's like "The Old Man and the Sea." People say, "The sea is death." But the objects in the story have lots of different kinds of significance. Objects attract different meanings.

MT: The mysteries of Tony Hillerman. There's the tension of who killed this person and why, but there are different meanings. Partly the mystery, partly cultureal differences.

PPW: What do you think about thematic purpose. It used to be people talked about "Theme First!" but it's not talked about a lot anymore.

MT: It depends on how the story comes to me. If theme comes first, I'm in danger of writing an essay. My story "Revenant" is about getting stuck in grief and not moving on. But you have to figure out how to make it dramatic. But more often my stories come to me as a character.

SRT: Theme is important ot me. But it's kind of a backwards process that comes at the end. I have to start with something more concrete. I discover the theme.

CV: I wish people would talk about theme. I hate it when authors refuse to take a stand. I don't think about it before I start. I revise a lot.

MT: I wrote two short stories and a play script about the reaction of people to a public execution.