The horror genre is not something that attracts many viewers. At first glance, it seems that it does not make sense at all. After the daily routine, adults sit and stare at the paper imaging the monsters that are surely made up. Sometimes, these stories may frighten people to such extent that they have to sleep with the lights on. However, at the same time, it has many fans, who adore the adrenaline and emotions caused by horror stories. If you are a writer, who wants to know how to write horrors, we are going to provide you with some helpful suggestions that will increase your writing proficiency. Although every person has own fears, we will help you create a story that will have a terrorizing effect on all your readers.
Indeed, writing a horror that is truly scary is not an easy thing to do. Even if you are a promising horror writer or an enthusiastic storyteller, you probably will be happy to learn some pointers that would boost your proficiency. We assure you that our suggestions will help you turn a simple scary story into a thrilling nightmare. In our guide, we have gathered the secrets of the well-known horror writers that will help you develop your own style.
- Use a strong, persuasive tone. In order to understand how to write horror, you should clearly understand the concept of “tone” and its role in your story. Indeed, the tone of your story, along with the mood, allows you to create the right atmosphere making your readers` spines tingling before the character takes some action;
- Give your characters a strong motivation. How many times, when watching the horror movies, you though “Why do you go there?” “Why don’t you just sit in your room and wait for help?” The same principle should be applied when writing a horror story. Your reader should clearly understand the motivation of your characters and know WHY do they take certain actions. Alternatively, you may allow your readers to guess the motivation of your characters as it will help you create a mystery that will keep the nerves of your readers strained.
- Use the elements of tragedy in your story. It is hard to imagine the horror story without the tragic elements. Indeed, the horror story is characterized by the fact that the readers can see the signs that the characters cannot. In order to write a good story in this genre, you need to create a horror-filled situation in which all your characters are pretty smart and motivated but some terrifying force defines all their actions. Ideally, you should create the story in which everything depends on the choices and decisions of your characters – past, present, and future. As such, if you want to be a good horror writer, you should demonstrate that even in the fantastical realms, the cause and effect relation is very strong;
- Learn more about the common human fears to frighten your readers. When writing a horror story, keep in mind that its key purpose is to arouse fear, disgust, or shock. Thus, you should work with the fears that are inherent to almost all people. Making your readers scared, you will create a special atmosphere of horror that will make your story authentic.
Below, you will find the most common human fears:
- The fear of the dark. Since childhood, the fear of the dark is one of the most common fears that is paralyzing people. People are always afraid of the unknown;
- The fear of animals. Many people are afraid of snakes, spiders, sharks, and mystic creatures;
- The fear of unknown intentions of other people, especially the ones with weird behavior;
- The fear of height;
- The fear of a disorienting environment.
Actually, the list of common human fears is much longer. If you want to create a great horror story, you need to take some time to brainstorm your ideas and understand what human fear you should take as a basis of your story;
- Find out the difference between horror and terror. If you are going to become a skilled horror writer, you should know the main difference between horror and terror. Oxford dictionary defines “terror” as a state of feeling. “Terrorizing” someone means using extreme fear for intimidating others. Horror, on the contrary, assumes including the elements of shock and disgust. As such, horror can be reached by not only extreme fear but also by the suspense, as well as the unexpected elements.
How to Write Horror Stories: A Step-by-Step Guide
Undoubtedly, to write a great horror story, one should dedicate enough time and effort to the pre-writing stake thinking about each important element.
- Assume that your fears may not frighten other people. The main purpose of your story is to scare your readers. However, some of the things that you consider as frightening may gust annoy your reader. We highly recommend you to study the experience of such talented people of the horror genre as Alfred Hitchcock or John Carpenter to understand how do they manage to create the atmosphere of horror in each of their masterpieces;
- Study the great examples of horror stories and see how their authors use the mystic elements in order to reach their goals. We assure you that studying the efficient techniques applied by these authors and introducing some of them in your stories, you will be able to create amazing stories that will attract more readers. However, pay attention that when borrowing some of these techniques, you will need to develop your own authentic writing style;
- Pay attention to tragic elements. It does not mean that your story should end up with a tragedy, however, introducing the tragic moments within your story, you will definitely keep the readers` attention and make them worry for the fate of the characters;
- Write an outline. In academic writing, an outline is a great thing that allows the writer to keep the ideas organized in the right order. However, when it comes to writing a horror story, an outline is a particularly important instrument that allows the author to pay attention to all the important details and develop the ideas in a logical flow. Besides, a good outline allows following the cause and effect relation that is important in writing horror stories.
- Include vivid details. Allowing your readers to consider themselves as a part of your story, you will definitely succeed. Do not just tell them what happened to your characters. Show it. Let your readers become a part of the environment and they will like it;
- Manipulate the emotions of your readers. Involving your readers in your story, you should use your best writing skills to manipulate their emotions and make them feel the way you want. The success of the horror story greatly depends on the reaction of your readers to what is happening. Thus, you need to choose the right words and use the right techniques to cause paranoia, stress, fear, and shock in your readers. We assure you that when starting reading your story, people want these emotions. They want to get this adrenaline, as well as to have the heart rate accelerated;
- Be realistic. Of course, your reader understands that your story is fictional. However, filling it with realistic details, you will succeed in creating the right atmosphere. Actually, the skill of a horror writer is to make up the unbelievable events that can become real. It would be great if you could create the story that is happening in the present-day realms;
- Introduce your characters. The success of your story greatly depends on how well you can present your characters. As well as in any other genre, all the characters you introduce in your horror story should be appropriate and well-thought. Ideally, you need to have a protagonist and an antagonist with their own strengths, weaknesses, and characteristic features;
- Use your own fears to create a story. When working on your horror story, you need to think about the things that seem frightening to you. Even if your readers do not consider them scary, you will be able to create the right mood;
- Make simple things look scary. Every day, people do some activities and use various things. If you manage to turn some usual things into the scary ones, you will be able to reach the anticipated result. For instance, you may turn the water into blood and a tea into a poison;
- Use your imagination. For a horror writer, imagination is the weapon allowing to create rich images. Having a wild imagination, you will be able to turn the absurd things into the real ones. In order to have a good imagination, you need to feed it with different images and information. However, pay attention not to combine your real life with writing your horror stories;
- Be objective. Of course, being a writer, you like some of your characters more than others. However, you need to be as objective as possible allowing them to do bad things if the plot of your story requires that;
- Create a good climax. As you build your horror story and want to make it interesting for your reader, you need to make sure your climax is interesting enough. The climax is the very peak of the story that shows the story`s resolution. Resolving your conflict in an unprofessional way and making it too obvious, you may lose the interest of your reader, which will lead to your failure. Indeed, the climax of your story is the most important thing, thus you should pay attention to every single detail so that your reader could get the clear final;
- Don`t play with your reader. Yes, including numerous twists in your story is good. Actually, to maintain the interest of your reader, you need to create a high level of suspense. However, finalizing the story in a way that will make your reader hiss, you won`t reach the desired goal. For instance, you are writing a story about a cruel neighbor, who has been killing young girls. However, if at the end of your story it appears that he is just an eccentric man, who is not guilty in all the murders, your reader will feel cheated. As such, you need to finalize your story with a logical conclusion that won`t cause any questions in the heads of your readers.
Post Writing Stage
The post-writing stage includes a thorough revision and proofreading. We assure you that when checking your story after it is written, you will find a lot of irrelevant or awkward sentences that should be fixed. After all, if you want to reach a good outcome with your horror story, you should take care of not only its content but also its mechanics.
Now you know how to write horror stories. Apply our suggestions in practice and you will definitely create an amazing story that will help you burn interest in your readers. Good luck!