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
- A good horror story is all about what you put your character through.
- 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.
- 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.
- Use a ticking clock to build the tension. Deadlines are great for anybody writing in the thriller or horror genre.
- Create a worthy antagonist. You can write about monsters – real or made-up. The real people who are monsters are often the scariest.
- If you want to terrify your character (and your audience) slowly remove everything that makes them feel secure.
- Make sure your character’s actions are believable. Even though horror requires the suspension of belief, their actions should make sense to them.
- Cross your genres. Use this list to choose one.
- 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.
- 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:
- Write a story about going home for Halloween. 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.
- Write a Halloween haiku or a Halloween sonnet or a Halloween villanelle.
- Write a story about children who are left with somebody who is unreliable and forgetful.
- The lady in white always appears on the stairs at midnight on Halloween. Nobody believed you, until today.
- The clocks have stopped, both digital and analogue. You try to tell people, but nobody cares.
- They offered you $1 000 to spend the night in the graveyard.
- Write a free verse ABC (acrostic) poem:
Happy Halloween and Happy Writing!
TIP: If you want help with your elements of fiction writing, buy The Novel Writing Exercises Workbook.
© Amanda Patterson
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