I introduced you to Michaelbrent Collings (though perhaps he really needed no introduction) during horror month, and he’s back to share a bit of writing wisdom with us today.
Talking Stoker and Awardy Goodness
First of all, all blame for the use of “Awardy” is mine. I’m a writer, so I get to make up words. I think that’s the definition of “writer.” If not, I made that up, too. Because Writer.
In all seriousness, though, I’m a terrifically blessed writer: not only have I enjoyed the good fortune to be a full-time author, but my work has been pretty universally accepted and enjoyed by the horror community. I’ve managed to wrack up a few hundred good reviews by critics in the industry, and a few thousand good reviews by readers. I’ve even managed to be a Bram Stoker Award finalist a couple times, and been on the Bram Stoker reading list (sorta the shortlist for the award) a few more.
For those who don’t know, the Bram Stoker Award is a lot like the Academy Awards, only for all things scary. Run by the Horror Writers Association, the BSA is given out for a number of different categories, and I’ve been able to hit that very selective dartboard several times. Yaaaaay me!
So how does one get on the ballot? What makes a horror story “award worthy”?
Obviously, if I knew the answer exactly, I’d be there every year. So I can’t say it’s a science, but I will point out one element of horror writing – and any writing – that you must include to maximize your chances of good critical receptions and even award nominations in that category.
What is that element?
There are a lot of great stories out there. Some win the awards. Some don’t. Some of the ones that don’t are arguably (almost certainly) better than the ones that do. Certainly there are better stories out there than mine (though I like to think that mine are pretty good). But if you notice the names in any award ceremony, they tend to have one thing in common: those authors participate.
It’s not enough to be good. You can get some traction with that, but I have found that, over time, the people who have careers that last aren’t the ones who can just write a cool yarn. They’re the ones who have learned to play well with others. More than that, they’re the ones who support their fellows in their work. Who try to make the world a better place, and the communities they work within all the richer for their presence.
I’ve mentored writers, I’ve served on countless writing panels at conferences and symposia. I’ve written about horror and how to make the community better (like now!). I’ve done my best, simply, to be a decent human in my field.
This is a spooky time. A scary time. Halloween time is fun because it allows us to be ghosts, ghouls, demons, demigods. We can be Marvel superheroes or DC villains.
But at an even deeper level, it is about a culture that agrees to share their stories. That’s what makes it really fun, and what makes every house – if for only one night – open its doors to strangers, to host them and to feed them; to entertain them and be entertained by them.
Our personal awards for best costume don’t necessarily go to the person who makes the coolest costume, when the trick-‘r’-treaters are out. It usually goes to the one that gives us joy. Who makes us smile. And that’s the same for awards everywhere.
Make them scream and they’ll buy your book. Make them scream, then smile and show them you are a friend, and they’ll buy you. That’s how you grab a fanbase, get noticed for awards, and – in a word – succeed.
About the Author
One of the most versatile writers around, Michaelbrent Collings is an internationally bestselling novelist, produced screenwriter, and multiple Bram Stoker Award finalist. While he is best known for horror (and is one of the most successful indie horror authors in the United States), he has also written bestselling thriller, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, humor, young adult, and middle grade works, and Western Romance.
As a novelist, Michaelbrent has written dozens of bestsellers that have also received critical acclaim, and he and his work have been featured on everything from mom-and-pop podcasts to Publishers Weekly, The San Francisco Book Review, and NPR.
Find more about him at his website, WrittenInsomnia.com, or sign up for his mailing list (and get a free book!) at http://eepurl.com/VHuvX.
Connect with Michaelbrent Collings:
website: WrittenInsomnia.com – “Stories to keep you up all night”
Books by the Author
#BramStoker finalist @mbcollings offers #writingadvice in a #guestpost. #WordWhisperer