Marc Sherland clearly loves horror because he keeps returning to Largs Writers Group, and you know what a horrible lot we are. President of the Scottish Association of Writers and ambassador for the Scottish Federation of Writers, Marc is an accomplished poet, folklorist, writer and tutor with Word Factory and other influential groups. We are fortunate that he is willing to extend his tutoring to our group from time to time.

His insightful knowledge of the history of horror writing and writers took us through the ages from the days of cavemen and stories told around a fire through to the era of the Inquisition, then by way of Grimm, Stoker and Poe to the great 20th century writer Stephen King. The use of horror-storytelling to reinforce the moral standards of the day, often by religious authority, was interesting.

It was clear from the knowledge of books and film shown by our members that there is a disturbing enthusiasm for being scared or scary. Whilst admitting to frailties in our fear of everything from rats to bats and beyond it was also the case that we knew of many ways to deal with vampires and werewolves – although the use of a sunlamp was new to us all (thanks, Alasdair).

Horror is perhaps the most rule-driven form of prose writing. Marc laid out his ten commandments for writing horror but with the proviso that rules should be pushed to the limit and broken if good cause can be shown for doing so.

In setting a 1500-word story (or 100-line poem) competition task, Marc clearly hopes to push our creative abilities to the limit, but always with the warning that too much gore and terror can turn it to comedy so easily.

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