How to Write a Horror Story with Ease
A horror story is quite a specific genre because it requires a variety of skills and knowledge. It is not a romantic story, where your main tasks are to make people feel inspired, sad or dreamy. When writing a horror story you need to freak out your audience and make it tremble!
These stories concentrate on fear and evoke such emotions as disgust or even hatred. A horror story is not for everyone. Moreover, most of the readers would prefer to avoid it and would definitely not buy it as an anniversary present. However, there are still many readers, who love this genre and want to be scared. These people are your target audience and they are waiting for you to write a horror story, so you can’t let them down and should read our detailed guidelines if you want to succeed!
Before You Start Writing
You should always start with preparation. Here are a few tips that you may use:
Define What You are Afraid of
Fear is quite an interesting emotion because while love or hatred is clear and follows the same patterns, different people are afraid of different things. Some of them are afraid of dark places, while others – prefer to stay away from clowns.
That is why if you want to write a good horror story you need to realize that there will be people, who are simply not afraid of the things you describe and may even consider your story boring. You won’t be able to please everyone.
That is why you should simply ask yourself what things you are afraid of and to write a story based on those fears.
Look at Other Works
Read horror stories of the best horror writers. This will help you to see what elements they use, what structures they stick to and what techniques are the most efficient ones. You don’t need to copy their approach but it will help you to draw new ideas and inspiration.
Base Your Story on a Tragedy
The best horror stories are always based on tragedy. These tragedies shouldn’t be scary but they must engage readers with the main characters.
Your story shouldn’t necessarily end with a tragedy but it should definitely take place somewhere in the story to stir different emotions. These tragedies may cause pity, which makes the audience empathic. Or stir fear: usually readers try the situation on and they are really scared of what has happened to the character because they think that they are the ones to experience the tragedy.
Work on the Outline
Before you proceed with writing, it is necessary to outline the story. This means that you should write down all the elements you want to include in your text and to structure them based on the way you want your story to unfold.
Not depending on how you want to render your ideas, including the following elements to the story is a must: exposition, conflict, action, climax, anticlimax, and resolution.
You can’t tell how the conflict was solved if you haven’t introduced readers to the conflict itself.
Finally, you are ready to start writing. We have collected the best tips that will help any author to write a horror story!
There is no better way to connect readers and characters together than to write every action and situation in detail. Instead of telling what happened, show it to your readers.
Let them feel the way your characters felt. Let them become a part of the scene, participating in the story. Be detailed, use vivid language and don’t be afraid to experiment!
Don’t be Afraid to Manipulate Emotions
Any time you are writing a story (whether it is a horror, a detective or a romance), you need to appeal to readers’ emotions and try to manipulate them in every line. This especially concerns horror stories, because you should constantly keep your audience in suspense.
The success of your story on 100% depends on whether you will be able to scare readers or not. And you can do this only if you make them feel the connection with characters. Stir anger, fear, shock or even paranoia in the audience!
It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t insert any paranormal ideas and concepts into your story. But make them plausible and try to include as minimum unbelievable facts and ideas, as possible.
Instead, make sure that the story’s events match the setting and are quite believable.
The success of your story greatly depends on the way you describe your characters. That is why it is crucial to approach this stage with maximum attention. As well as in other genres, horror story characters must be realistic and close to the reader.
Even if you are writing about paranormal characters that the audience can’t relate with, you can assign them with treats of character that readers will find familiar.
Both the protagonist and antagonist should have strengths and fears, emotions, dreams and cravings. Try to build a strong connection between the character and your readers. Describe characters with many details and stick to them along the story.
When introducing main characters to the audience don’t forget to add minor details, which makes readers see them in a clearer light and to feel the same emotions.
Include Your Own Fears
When you write a horror story, you should think of the things that scare you the most and include them in your story. You can also ask your friends or even complete strangers what scares them the most. In such a way you will know what things to include in your story!
Make Regular Things Look Really Scary
Every day we complete the same actions: wake up, have breakfast, go to a shower and drive to work. Make those regular things scary. For example, let the character see a monster under the bed, let the morning coffee turn into the blood or place a huge snake on the back seat of the car.
Listen to Your Inner Voice
If you want to create an outstanding horror story, your imagination should go wild and be really bright. You should open up your mind to the weirdest things that may seem absurd.
To achieve such a boost you need to feed your mind with those weird things. But be careful, because such things may influence your regular life.
Don’t Protect Your Characters
No matter how much you like your characters, you should never shield them from all the bad things that can happen with them in the story. Don’t be afraid to let awful things happen to them.
If you continue protecting your characters, you will hardly stir horror and fear in your readers.
A Strong Climax
After introducing the conflict and building up the story, you need to make sure that its climax is really interesting and powerful. It is the highest peak of your horror story, so it will greatly affect its success.
When you are done with the climax, make sure you provide a matching resolution.
Don’t Twist the Plot Too Much
It is quite ok for a horror story to have a twisted plot but try not to overuse such an approach. Even if you include more and more details as the story unfolds, make sure that they are clear and understandable to the audience.
The biggest mistake you can make is to confuse the readers so that they are not able to trace the main ideas and events of the story.
After the Story is Written
Let us congratulate you! You have already finished your horror story and it is the right time to relax a bit. Once you are ready to get back to the draft, make sure you know what things to look for.
Before you send the story to a publisher, it is necessary to edit it. Start with checking language use. This means that you need to detect and underline (or highlight if it is a computer version) irrelevant or complex words and change them into simpler ones. Make sure that those words suite the character: his personality, occupation, and age.
You should also delete all the scenes that are not related to the story and simply occupy space.
It often happens that writers delete or change almost every word while editing the draft. Don’t worry! It shows that you truly care and you have all the time in the world to rewrite your story as many times as necessary until you are completely satisfied with the result.
Even if you find writing a horror story difficult, it should still bring your joy and satisfaction. If you feel like you are out of energy, imagine all the emotions your audience will experience from reading the story: disbelieve, shock, gross and relief!