Horror Writers Association Blog

Interview with Horror University instructor Patrick Freivald

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This is the first in a series of interviews with our StokerCon 2017 Horror University instructors. At Horror University, you’ll find award-winning and best-selling authors offering intensive two-hour workshops on all aspects of horror writing.

Today we’re talking with multiple Bram Stoker Award®-nominated author Patrick Freivald about his Saying More With Less workshop.

About Saying More With Less:

Writing styles are as varied as writers themselves, but a common complaint among editors and publishers of horror fiction is that writers use too many words to say what they mean to say. This interactive workshop will focus on squeezing every ounce of meaning from each word. Participants should bring a 200-300 word prose sample from a work in progress.

Patrick Freivald is the four-time Bram Stoker Award® nominated author of Jade Sky and Black Tide, where he used the word “was” only in dialogue. His now-defunct blog, Word Soup, focused on boiling all the excess words from prose, and his beta reading group were a featured panel at the 2015 World Horror Convention and StokerCon 2016. For more information visit his website: http://patrick.freivald.com/


Tell us something about your Horror University workshop that is not in the original description.

In “Saying More With Less” I’ll be using specific examples from successful authors, as well as giving the participants the opportunity to analyze and critique their own and others’ work. I want to keep the direct instruction as pared down as possible to give the maximum possible time to apply the principles to the samples the workshop participants bring.

What skills or achievements make you ideally suited to lead this workshop?

This is my second time teaching the workshop. I started my obsession with word economy many years ago, and ran a successful and highly-read blog where I would “boil down” samples of authors’ work, with dozens and dozens of examples over several years.

Why do you feel that your workshop subject is especially important?

Novels and short stories have to be as perfect as one can get them. Sloppy language use, verbosity, cliches–these are all things that can turn off a potential agent, editor, or reader. When done well, a focus on word economy can leave the reader immersed effortlessly in the story that the writer wants to tell.

If you could participate in one other Horror University workshop, which one would you choose and why?

I want to participate in Hank Schwaeble’s workshop of the same name; he’s an amazing writer and I’d love to see what he does with a similar topic.

Do you approach the craft of writing horror differently from other genres?

I don’t. Stories are all about characters and plot, and the emotional connection the reader engages with. In that sense, horror is no different from any other genre.

Apart from teaching your workshop, what are you most looking forward to at StokerCon?

I know a great many people who will be there, and I want to spend time talking shop with other terrifically talented writers who are just as passionate about writing and horror as I am.

What do you most hope that those attending your workshop take away from it?

 A more critical eye, and confidence in that eye, toward their own work.

StokerCon 2017 will take place aboard the historic Queen Mary in Long Beach, California from April 27th to April 30th. For more information on StokerCon or to purchase tickets, please visit the StokerCon website.

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