Halloween is just around the corner, and ‘tis the season for raising the hairs on your arms and sending a thrill down your spine. And in the spirit of the season, here are three great horror writing tips to get you started on your own blood-curdling tales!
Getting Started with These Horror Writing Tips
One of the scary stories that sticks with me the most is Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Telltale Heart”. Though it’s been years since I’ve read it, I can still remember the palpable fear in each beat of the narrator’s guilt-ridden heart. Poe has always used sensory language to bring his tales to thrilling life, and it made a lasting impression on me. You can feel the suspense building with each sensation he describes. So while it may be a common horror writing tip, appealing to the senses can be horrifically effective. Let me see the sweat dripping from your brow, hear the hammering of your heart, and feel your throat clench around the scream you’re desperately trying to let out.
H.P. Lovecraft, renowned author of the Cthulhu mythos and other weird fiction, culminated throughout his stories an indescribable atmosphere of dread that was as unsettling as it was mesmerizing. Each word clings to the next and the next until, before you know it, you’ve reached the end. This is the kind of atmosphere that makes great horror writing. Always remember that less is more, especially in horror – after all, the more you see of the monster, the less fearsome it becomes.
Believe it or not, the concept of horror is empathetic in nature. “Terror” is meant to describe the fright that you personally feel during a scary experience, while “horror” refers to the fear you feel on someone else’s behalf. The stronger your connection with that other person, the stronger the reaction. Just imagine – if you were reading about a character that you didn’t like, you wouldn’t be very invested in the story. And in horror, if you’re not invested in the story, it becomes easy to dismiss the haunts and scares and, ultimately, you miss out on the experience. So when you write down your own haunted happenings, don’t focus on the frights alone. Tend your characters well, and your audience will tremble.
Though it’s not for everyone, getting scared can be tons of fun! So this Halloween season (or anytime, really), try putting your spooky thinking cap on and see what sorts of stories you can scare up. If you’re interested in any more horror writing tips or want to pursue horror writing further, I’d love to hear what you’ve got! Just contact me at my website Write One Publications for more info.