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Horror Writing Tips

September 16, 2010

Some may believe writing horror is as simple as making up a ghost story about a man using a lantern to find his missing head. It’s relatively more complex than the average campfire story. A few tips will help you construct perfect horror formula to give your readers a good nightmare.

1. Be Original – In this particular genre, originality is hard to obtain. A lot has already been done. But novels like the Sookie Stackhouse and even the Twilight series prove old monsters like vampires can always find a new cult following. A story unlike any others can be seen as a good thing.

2. Absorb the Genre – It’s important for writers to read. You want to be informed of what’s already out there. Learn from the greats and the mistakes of the not-so-greats. There’s a reason why some stories do better than others.

3. Stay Clear of Cliches – This tip falls in line with the first. Readers get bored with the same ole type of characters in the same ole storylines being chased/killed by the same ole monsters. Unless you can put a fresh spin on it, try staying away from the stereotypes.

4. Gore or No Gore – Blood and guts serve their purpose in a horror novel. However, they are not always needed. Leaving things to ones imagination can be just as frightening. Gore is not always needed for a good horror story. If you choose to use it, remember to not saturate your entire plot in it. Too much of a good thing can ruin it for the readers. You want it to be believable.

5. Happy Endings – If you put your characters through one traumatic roller coaster, is it realistic to have them sharing group hugs at the end of the day. What possible reason could they have to be happy other than escaping with their lives? People are dead. That’s nothing to celebrate. Your characters may be battling an evil they don’t fully understand. Their efforts to kill it may make the situation worse. One thing to remember is plot twists can add to the scare.

Andrea admits she can’t wait to celebrate her birthday tomorrow. Perhaps turning 27 won’t be a horrible experience.
One Comment
  1. September 16, 2010 1:41 pm

    All very good points, and after reading this I now know I’ve been applying these very principles to my writing without even realizing it.
    If I were to have written this article, I would have included:
    6. Don’t be afraid to kill your characters.

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