Fret not mortals for I have come up with the perfect little guide to How To Write The Best Halloween Book that is not Horror because that’s different!
And don’t doubt my qualifications to write this post because I’ll have you know that (a.) I’ve never written a book in my whole entire 16 year old life and (b.) my country is a sad sad place and doesn’t celebrate Halloween and probably kicks puppies in its free time.
So I’m OBVIOUSLY the BEST person to write this post in the most condescending tone I can muster!*
*If you don’t believe me then begone blind bat and ner return!
Don’t worry I like to think that what I lack in experience I more than make up for with enthusiasm!
And since all the things you’ve ever learned you’ve learned from the Internet, I present:
Ioana’s Foolproof (but untested) Guide To Writing A Halloween Book!
#1 : This is not Horror so you can drop all of that horror genre tropes and characters you got there now
I’ve said it once I’ve said it an infinite times : Halloween =/= Horror! (hopefully you read this as “doesn’t equal”…if you did here’s a cookie)
Those 2 are wholly different! Maybe neighbors but definitely one’s a goth and one’s an emo. You just don’t mix them. The same way one shouldn’t mix apple and pumpkin when one’s baking a sensational pie. It’s just an act of pure villainy!
Mind exercise if you’re rising your eyebrows dubiously at me :
Halloweentown => is a Halloween movie.
That one movie about crazy psychopaths that murder everyone and leave all the blood staining the brand new precious carpet like absolute madmen => it’s a horror movie.
Halloween is spooky and silly and here for all the memes. Horror is ….well I can’t say I’m exactly a fan of horror ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I like my characters well developed and with a good reason for murder.
#2: The spookiness is in THE AIR. So think weather.
Is it raining enough in your book? No? Well then IT’S FOR NOTHING young hobbit.
Rain brings the melancholy, the sadness, the sleepiness! It brings the smell of autumn and sticks the leaves to the pavement. How can it be misty enough for a mindless ghost apparition or an accidental murder witnessing IF IT’S NOT RAINY?
If you setting is one of those mythical countries where it never rains like California than…well…I can’t help ya. Foreshadow the apocalypse if you must.
#3: Costume parties of absolute strangeness!!
They are perfect if ya make them strange! Weird costumes that look too real? A million souls dancing to a chant? Candles and teens and all of the party feels!
Borrow a page from Holly Black or Moira Fowley-Doyle : something always happens at a part. And it ends in fire or blood and everybody is sad.
WHICH is the goal here because sad it wonderful and interesting!
#4: The Woods™
Just…set everything near woods. It rises the spookiness level bar up and it’s perfect for all creepy monsters and tragedy AND pretty trees with yellow leaves. So enthusiastically think NATURE. Pot the smol plants, have a corn maze, endless wheat fields, apple orchards => nature is important to AUTUMN.
#5 : Pumpkin Spice is your bestest friend
Just give your poor characters some food. Be it a pumpkin spice muffin, a hot chocolate with cinnamon or an apple pie – just feed the poor souls. Don’t let them starve to death be a benevolent creator. Also it leaves the readers hungry and we readers love that believe me. So whip out your inner basicquesc creature and embrace the pumpkin spice.
#6 : MURDER! MURDER! AND MORE MURDER!
Ok this contradicts point #1 probably because I’m a mess of contradictions myself. But if you follow my instructions you should probably end up ok and not in a Gordian knot. TANGLED LIMBS ARE COMPLETELY FINE.
But have the murder, make the characters suffer muahahahaha. Ahem. Be it a hallucination, a dream, a real murder in the past or present – you just need the deaths!
Or you can take the absolute best approach and murder everyone slowly. SUFFERING! FUN!
#7 : Very strong family or friendship bonds
If you face the supernatural on such a spooky occasion it would be extremely rude not to invite all you close ones! Families that slay together stay together and who are we to contradict such ancient proverb of wisdom?
If you hear a crunch coming from the kitchen in the middle of the night don’t be a mere fool and go down to investigate if the ghosts might be eating chocolate digestives by yourself.
Bring a sister, one half of your parentals (doesn’t matter which half), the family pet, a friend that was conveniently there! 80% of the time you can be certain the demon/killer is not merely eating chocolate cookies (at ghosts there’s a 60% chance since they are weak for chocolate digestives) and you can throw the closest living being into the poltergeist’s arms if need be! Don’t be stupid, stupid.
And they make everything way more angsty and tragic and the goal here is to make everyone cry.
Sprinkle in some poor mental health
The horror should affect the characters on the inside too! Because ghosts exist inside more than outside!!
If I like some things in my spooky books those are grief, depression, anxiety, ocd – those are far more challenging than a stupid ghost man with a knife that turns out was the butler all along.
Make me cry challenge is what I’m trying to say here. Punch me in the heart!! I want to feel it breaking!!
Add a dash of diversity
This has to exist in all stories otherwise sorry mate it’s just not realistic.
Now your story is prepared to bake in the oven of NaNoWriMo and come out beautiful and very very dangerously sharp! Congratulations the baby book you will birth is a knIFE and it will STAB US ALL in the feels.