Scream Writing: A Comprehensive Guide to Writing the Horror Screenplay
What exactly does it mean to be afraid of a film? How do horror films manage to thrill, disgust and terrify their audiences? Why is it we are scared of run-down hospitals when they show up in film after film? Where can we see the evolutionary roots of horror in action?
Creator of the horror screenwriting site Scriptophobic, author Zack Long sets out to answer these questions and more in Scream Writing: A Comprehensive Guide to Writing the Horror Screenplay. Breaking the genre down into the parts that make it unique, Long uses evolutionary history, psychoanalysis and linguistics to explore what the monsters, scares, settings and plots of the horror film say about us and how we can use this knowledge to build our own tales of terror.
* Discover how plots are divided into the seven struggles of horror
* Explore how psychological baggage and mental frameworks color our experience of cinematic settings
* Use abjection and biology to craft terrifyingly real monsters
* Learn what separates fear, disgust, anxiety, shock and tension from each other and how they work together to produce a cognitive effect within the audience
* And so much more
In many ways, this has been the culmination of life up to this point. The interest in horror films that began when I was a child had pushed me into researching the genre in nearly every waking moment of my life. For me, horror is more than just an infection; it is a parasite and I the host, together in a symbiotic relationship.
What began as a reaction to the lackluster "how to write a horror movie" books I had encountered throughout life took on a life of its own about two months into the project. I realized that what those books failed to do is address the reader like they understood film. They were basically "Screenwriting 101" with a slight nod to horror. To remedy this, I focus primarily on the points of interest that are unique to the horror film: Monsters and Scares, for example. While other genres have these elements, horror tends to focus on these elements. This perspective allowed Scream Writing to really crystalize its purpose for existing.
Most interesting of all was the manner in which I found myself learning while writing the book. Having worked as a ghost writer now, learning a topic while writing it has become a common experience for me but at the time it was rather startling. If you have ever sat down to write on a topic you are passionate about, then you may have experienced the way in which giving concrete description to innate understandings can blow your mind while also feeling like common knowledge. Writing is an eldritch experience, atlas.