Do Not Disrespect Your Audience– You disrespect your audience by creating a bad product. When someone pays hard-earned money to enjoy a book you’ve written or a film you’ve created, it better be the best you can do. Creating a story that requires too much CGI, depends on simple gore, or is just stupid disrespects your audience. Horror fans are known for loyalty. Earn it. Do not expect your reader to know what they can’t know, they aren’t mind-readers. Don’t go overboard with your comedy. Don’t waste time “establishing your character,” because that should be happening as the story progresses. We learn from character interaction during the story and minor hints in between action. Brief, concise flashbacks are good when used with tact.
Going along with this theme NEVER make assumptions about your audience. You do not know your demography. It may be college-aged males, a.k.a. “frat brats,” or it may be adults. When you target only a fraction of the actual audience, you lose more than you gain. Make your product resonate with as wide an audience as you can. Remember, at least half the audience will be female (we do love horror, too) and another large fraction will be over 30.
Tradition Still Resonates– What do you have when you’ve created a novel or film where everyone is exaggerated and unusual? A work that no person will relate to. It will be viewed as a trip to fantasy land. The main focus in any fictional work, book or film, is to achieve a connection with your audience. You want them to relate with your characters. You want them to be so convinced by your story that they literally feel transported into it. You want them to see people they might pass on the street, to experience events they fondly recall. While, of course, you want to create plausible individuals who are individuals, you do not want to make every character so flamboyant or over-the-top that no person viewing can relate. If you must use colorful and vivid characters, use them sparingly and expect them to steal the spotlight from the other characters, if overused.
Don’t Forget Folklore! This is an imperative statement today. We see so many themes that are overused and beat into the ground that we tend to forget what is right in front of us. Never forget about your geographic region when you need inspiration. Countless areas, just in America alone, have exquisite folklore, brimming over with colorful people and completely unique stories. These tales may be tired and worn out to you, but think of how they will appear to others with some embellishment. Most are delighted to find an entire world of possibilities just in books on local history or when speaking with local historians.
More on horror Demography can be found here.