Writing a Horror

I just got finished with another short story. This time I tried my hand at a horror/dark fantasy type story. I’m planning on submitting this to the next issue of Millhaven Press. Whereas all my other stories that have been published through Millhaven have also been published on here, I’m not going to add this one to my website. The only way to read it will be through Millhaven. So, I’ve been inspired to write a little blog about writing horror stories. They can be tricky.

Horror, if you’re not aware, means “an intense fear of fear, shock, or disgust.”

When it comes to horrors stories there are five main things you will find:

  1. They deal with wicked or malevolent characters, phenomena, or deeds.
  2. They cause feelings of disgust, fear, or shock, and a sense of uncanny. This means that things aren’t always what they seem. There is a strong sense of the unknown.
  3. Horror stories will cause intense emotion, environments, tones, and moods.
  4. They have shocking and/or scary story revels and plot twists. All of the evil characters are very, very real.
  5. Readers are immersed in the macabre.

So how can you convey these five things in your writings? Here are six tips to help you.

Strong, Pervasive Tone

Mood and tone are the two elements that create the feeling of your story. The right mood and tone can cause the reader’s spine to tingle before any of the characters have done anything dangerous.

With horror, the frightening and dark tone is typically how most writers go. Making things that shouldn’t move, the move adds a frightening tone. Write a scene that most people aren’t going to want to actually live.

Read A Lot of Horrors

No matter what kind of genre you like to write in, you have to read a lot of books in that genre. While you are reading, you can take notes to see how those writers evoke feelings of disgust and fear. Some great horror authors include Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, and Bram Stoker.

Give Bad People Good Motivation

The bad people in your stories should never be doing things “just because” they can. That’s boring. Give them a really good reason as to why they are getting ready to hurt people. Reveling their reasoning can be part of the mystery as well

Use the Importance of Tragedy

The best way to write horror is to implement tragedy. The best stories will have tragedy as a character flaw seen through stupid choices and missteps. These basics of tragedy have become so obvious is nearly cliche. It’s those moments where you’re screaming “Don’t go in there stupid” because the character is oblivious to their own personal danger.

The important thing is to remember that all the horror-filled scenes all depend on character flaws. They wouldn’t be in their scary situation if they hadn’t made the decision to walk into the woods alone or run to the attic where there is no escape to get away from the serial killer.

Tap Into Human Fears

An easy way to make sure you arouse fear in your readers is to use some of the most common fears out there. Things like the:

  • fear of animals
  • fear of flying
  • fear of the dark
  • fear of heights
  • fear of another person’s unknown desires
  • fear of ugly or disorienting environments

Think of how you can use these types of situations in your stories to evoke a more natural fear in your readers.

Terror VS Horror

Both of these things have their place in horror stories, but you need to know the difference. According to the Oxford dictionary, terror means “extreme fear.” Horror means that you are also causing disgust and surprise. This means that horror should not only have extreme fear but a sense of surprise and revulsion. Here’s a quote from Stephen King:

I’ll try to terrify you first, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll horrify you, and if I can’t make it there, I’ll gross you out. I’m not proud.

There you have it. Try these tips the next time that you decide to write a horror story.

Before you go, check out these links and purchase the first two copies of Millhaven’s Tales.

Get Millhaven’s Tales of Wonder here

Pre-order Millhaven’s Tales of Suspense here

Pre-order a double pack with Millhaven’s Tales of Wonder and Suspense here


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