This week I’ve been revisiting my failed attempt at writing a horror story from December. It’s been an interesting exercise, taking elements of what I’d written and trying to revise it to achieved a horrifying tone, but it’s been a much bigger task than I expected.
While I haven’t had to re-invent the characters or setting, I largely replotted the story, getting from the same beginning to the same end in a different way. Even keeping that much of the structure the same, I had to do a lot of fresh writing. In fact, after the first few paragraphs I wasn’t able to reuse anything at all. I was a bit disappointed, as it made it feel more like I’d wasted my previous effort, but it was also a useful object lesson. Even when I was describing the same things, I had to do it differently. The problem with the original version, that it wasn’t really a horror story, was as much about tone as events. And the language that creates a tone of creeping unpleasantness is very different from what I use for an in-your-face scene of terrified people being attacked by malevolent spirits. It’s been well worth the effort, and though I haven’t quite finished yet I’m much more pleased with the result.