10 Ways To Kick-Start Your Horror Story

10 Ways To Kick-Start Your Horror Story

The holidays give writers a wonderful opportunity to harvest material for stories. We’ve included 10 tips and 10 ways to kick-start your horror story.

If you’re writing a horror story, or you’re looking to add a scary scene, use these tips and prompts to help you.

10 Tips To Write A Horror Story

  1. A good horror story is all about what you put your character through.
  2. The terror usually lies in the fear of the unknown and the anticipation. As Alfred Hitchcock said: ‘There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.’ Use foreshadowing to good effect.
  3. You do not need a scary location (although it doesn’t hurt to have one). You need to isolate your character, create suspense, and craft an intensity in the mood that seems overwhelming.
  4. Use a ticking clock to build the tension. Deadlines are great for anybody writing in the thriller or horror genre.
  5. Create a worthy antagonist. You can write about monsters – real or made-up. The real people who are monsters are often the scariest.
  6. If you want to terrify your character (and your audience) slowly remove everything that makes them feel secure.
  7. Make sure your character’s actions are believable. Even though horror requires the suspension of belief, their actions should make sense to them.
  8. Cross your genres. Use this list to choose one.
  9. You don’t have to set a crazy pace. Sometimes, the slower the pace, the more horrifying the story. Think of zombies and their relentless, slow progress.
  10. End with a horrifying plot twist. Something unexpected must happen. This something can be revealing, shocking, or clever. It can even be all three. Read: The Secret To Writing A Great Plot Twist

10 Ways To Kick-Start Your Horror Story At Halloween

Here are 10 Halloween-themed prompts to get you started:

  1. Write a story about going home for Halloween. When you get there, your family does not recognise you.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?
  4. Write a story about a haunted house from the viewpoint of the house.
  5. Write a Halloween haiku or a Halloween sonnet or a Halloween villanelle.
  6. Write a story about children who are left with somebody who is unreliable and forgetful.
  7. The lady in white always appears on the stairs at midnight on Halloween. Nobody believed you, until today.
  8. The clocks have stopped, both digital and analogue. You try to tell people, but nobody cares.
  9. They offered you $1 000 to spend the night in the graveyard.
  10. Write a free verse ABC (acrostic) poem:


Happy Halloween and Happy Writing!

More Horror Posts:

  1. Why Writers Should Know About Monsters Before They Write a Word
  2. 101 Horror Tropes For Writers
  3. Horror Masters: 3 Spooky Tips To Write Like Lovecraft, Poe, & King
  4. The 3 Pillars Of Horror
  5. 7 Spine-Chilling Tips For Writing An Unforgettable Horror Story
  6. On Ghosts & How To Write About Them
  7. 7 Common Horror Mistakes & How To Avoid Them
  8. Scaring Your Readers 101

TIP: If you want help with your elements of fiction writing, buy The Novel Writing Exercises Workbook.

© Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 28th October 2019