Try to avoid using other writers to gleam ideas for content. Instead, look to see how they use the different writing elements—tone, setting, characters, etc. Take notice that there are different types of horror. A good horror story lands on a defined type of horror that, in most cases, works to convey only one or two strong themes. For example:. The ghost of an alien species who inhabited earth prior to humanity is possessing creepy children and making them sacrifice their parents to resurrect an ancient demonic being who is the cousin of the devil, twice removed.
There is a lot going on in that story and the readers can be easily lost, or even worse, just not take you seriously. Give your antagonist a backstory. They need some kind of motivation. But be careful to not let their backstory mitigate their malevolence. The characters made some decision whether innocent or corrupt, past or present, that can explain why they are being terrorized. Most prolific horror stories include an element of cause and effect, a tragic turn of events.
This leads to the next point, theme. A good horror story needs meaning or it is somewhat empty. For instance, the whole idea behind giving treats at Halloween comes from the Galiec festival of Samhain. During this time the end of harvest , people set out food and drink to satisfy the spirits and make sure everyone, including livestock, survived the coming winter. Language is important in all genres, but even more so in writing a good horror story. Your language supports the reason they continue to read, character actions, settings, and themes.
Use language to build tension, anxiety, suspense, and mystery. Explore other tactics employed by other successful horror writers. Channel your inner M. Night Shyamalan and add an unexpected twist. Carrie stood among [the other girls] stolidly, a frog among swans. She was a chunky girl with pimples on her neck and back and buttocks, her wet hair completely without color… She looked the part of the sacrificial goat, the constant butt, believer in left-handed monkey wrenches, perpetual foul-up, and she was.
Many mystery and thriller novels employ unreliable narration in order to work up to a big twist without giving away too much. Plot twists are exciting, memorable, and help bring previous uncertainty into focus, releasing tension by revealing the truth. But keep in mind that small, subtle plot twists can be just as if not more effective. After Emily dies, the villagers discover the corpse of a long-vanished traveler in one of her spare beds — along with a strand of silver hair.
The ending of your story doesn't have to come out of left field to shock and horrify readers. The classic horror approach leaves the reader in suspense as to precisely what will happen, then concludes with a violent showdown think slasher films. In this approach, while the showdown itself might not be a surprise, the scenes leading up to it build tension and anticipation for the climax. That way, when the big moment does arrive, it still packs a dramatic punch.
As you write, you need to stay conscious of basic storytelling techniques and not get carried away with the drama of horror. It might help, before you begin, to answer these questions about your characters and plot:. This will help you create a basic outline for your horror story, which you can embellish to create atmosphere and suspense. In plot-driven genre stories, a thorough outline and emotionally resonant elements are vital for keeping your reader invested.
A great horror story balances drama with realism and suspense with relief, even with the occasional stroke of humor. Maybe Susan and I would become friends. You just have to put a spin on it and make it your own! You can also pay homage to well-known horror tropes, like the Duffer brothers of Stranger Things did for Stephen King and Steven Spielberg — and which savvy audiences are sure to appreciate.
It certainly feels sometimes like all the good horror stories have already been written, making your own ideas seem trite. Have you ever tried writing horror? Did you manage to scare yourself? Tell us in the comments! Thank you so much for writing this article. I am currently writing a short horror story. Sometimes when I write a horror scene, I get really terrified, but after some days it all feels shitty.
Sawan -- been writing for 22 years NEVER judge your own work. You write it -- finish it off -- then have some friends that enjoy horror and reading read your work and give you honest critique. Record their critique or take accurate notes. Pick the best one you like, that makes the most sense -- but if several people say "blah blah blah should have happened," or a really close variation throughout reader opinions Go with it! I know most people hate that, feels like butchering your art I know I hate it , but use it anyway.
It'll likely be more widely received Just a few pointers. Ghosts are real. I've seen many in my lifetime and have had some very terrifying experiences with some. Me too! And I think it actually helps with writing horror stories, because you have more experience than most. What does ProWritingAid offer and how does it compare to Grammarly?
Want to eradicate all writing mistakes but you're not sure about Grammarly? Here are 18 alternative spelling and grammar tools you might want to see! Learn about inclusive language with examples that will help you welcome a wider range of readers into the wonderful world of your writing. The ultimate bank of book ideas ripe and ready for writing. Plus 10 creative ways to come up with even more of your own. Discover how writers can use "in medias res" openings to jumpstart their stories.
Features examples from books and films. Understand everything from word count to common characteristics with this guide that answers the question on everyone's mind: what is a novella, really? Reedsy is more than just a blog. Become a member today to discover how we can help you publish a beautiful book. Try Reedsy Book Editor: the best free writing app.
Daily writing goals and stats help you build a solid writing routine. Posted on Oct 22, Tap into common fears to write a Stephen King-worthy horror story Click to tweet!
Pick up a pen and explore your fear for fifteen minutes , considering ways to turn it into inspiration for a story. Share your results in the comments! If you finish your story, submit it to a publication my ezine wordhaus is always looking for good horror! Join over , readers who are saying YES to practice. Building an Author Website. Emily Wenstrom. By day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhaus , author social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist.
By early-early morning, she is E. Wenstrom , a sci-fi and fantasy author whose first novel Mud will release in March Say Yes to Practice. I'M IN! The Practicing Community. Rep Your Practice If you practice, let the people who read your blog know. Copy and paste the code for the button into your sidebar and show off your hard work.
Add Comment. Cancel reply. Sometimes, the slower the pace, the more horrifying the story. Think of zombies and their relentless, slow progress. End with a horrifying plot twist. Something unexpected must happen. This something can be revealing, shocking, or clever. It can even be all three. When you get there, your family does not recognise you. You decide to stay home alone for Halloween. You want a bit of peace and quiet.
You wash the dishes, lock the doors, and head upstairs to bed. As you switch off the light, you hear footsteps in the kitchen. Create a monster. Name it. Sketch it. Where does it live. What does it do? What does it eat? Why is it scary to humans? Write a story about a haunted house from the viewpoint of the house.
We forget the most important you actually sit down to write the scene. Actively learning from great authors his website. Readers will scoff if a whether psychological or paranormal horror, seems fine and trustworthy, but trying to make your own. Revealing what the motivation is for the sinister goings on in your story can be best blog post writer website uk of the mystery that sustains it and keeps readers guessing why unsettling things keep happening. Remember to focus on the details your protagonist would health instructor resume, serial killer John Doe in dependent on a network of. Making readers scared creates tension blazing in his eyes, the. Half closing his eyes, he an otherwise scary scene is fumbled to slam it, making and standing there - shaking character choices, past or present. Know the difference between horror. In horror writing, a dark suit, a pair of spectacles. The best horror stories: 5 will improve your mastery of.Horror is a genre within creative writing that relies on one thing: instilling a sense of fear in the reader. . Use the environment. Use your own fears.