The Bare Bones of Horror Writing

Horror fiction

Horror fiction

by Annette Young

We all have our favourite genres in which to write and if you wish to craft a terrifying horror story, you need to understand the vital components, immersing yourself deep within the plot. By doing so, you begin to feel the suspense and trepidation as if held captive within the moment.  Your story has to be original, take the bare bones of all that makes horror so vital and then add a sense of uniqueness to your story.

Plan it out. Although some writers worry that by planning out a story, it will ruin the creative process, this isn’t true. It will save you time. You’ll avoid careering to a halt when your idea hits the brick wall of writers’ block and if your word count is limited, you’ll avoid writing unnecessarily.

Your characters need to be strong and so compelling that your readers feel their pain, they witness each moment and sensation,and fully experience a tingling that transmits all the way from the page up the spine and into their brains where they try to make sense of the horror before them. Make your readers’ care about the characters’ journey into the most dire and frightening of  situations. While your characters need to be larger than life, they also need to be realistic so that the reader can truly relate to them and care about the outcome.

Read as many published horror stories as you can. Absorb the techniques. It doesn’t always have to be gruesome or gory content but, well-written horror that plays games with the mind, often long after the story is over. If you make your readers think, gasp and experience a shiver of fear, you’ve done a great job. Although the emphasis is on the plot, make sure that you have done any necessary research. The slightest error can bring the reader back to the present in an instant. Pick a subject that personally scares the hell out of you. Our fears are common in the main. A sinister face pressed up against the glass in a menacing way, being trapped in a room filled with huge spiders, a suddenly ghostly apparition or….. being stalked from the shadows. If you can feel the fear, you can bet your readers will too.

Importantly, don’t rush your story. Live it and transform it so that the effect is far-reaching.

Horror Writers

By John Halasz

Horror writers can jump start their horror writing careers if they are well armed with the know-how of this especially-loved but repulse provoking genre. The trick lies in eliciting feelings of disgust, fear, horror and abhorrence from the readers. In fact, the more of it, better is the impact. Novels based on fear have been known to sell well. What is considered as being frightful in one era may differ depending upon the gender and the age of the reader. Horror writers have to maintain a balance so that their literary creation appeals to maximum number of people without biases towards gender, age or class. People read of shadowy figures lurking around or unexplainable scenes wide-eyed while breaking into cold sweat.

Horror screenplay writing is challenging for most, but greater influence can be made through the use of eerie sounds and light effects. Unlike a novel, scripts need only to lay detailed description of “what” of a scene and leave the “how” part of it to the directors. The scenes that are meant to startle the viewers through the use of macabre, supernatural or the fantasy need to be carefully woven by the horror writers from the beginning to the end so that they do not seem too unbelievable or outlandish. Writers of stories that depict terror often overlap it with the thriller genre to bring out the best in the tales that they are narrating. Screenplays that horrify also strike a chord of mystery or doom, and the horror writers must give it the most realistic touch so that the gory incidents continue to haunt the viewers long after the movie, theatrical play or TV serial is over.

The terror-stricken heroin plagued by a monster or a youngster troubled by nightmarish occurrences has been well taken in recent years. The earlier horror writers made good use of Gothic literature; Frankenstein and Dracula are classic anthologies of evil based series of books and scripts that were instantaneous hits. It was of little consequence whether the viewer understood the dialect used or not. The important point was that he comes under the spell of the terror being cast by the author. With years of experience under their belts, authors of horror too mature and master the art of “scaring the daylight out” of the readers or viewers winning high accolades from them and the critics. The main plot line adopted should be carefully planned and executed to evoke maximum dread.

Horror is primarily based on emotions. Dealing with the strange and the fantastic while reaching a large audience is a challenging task that experienced horror writers have learned to do repeatedly. Originality is a vital essence of horror writing because when an idea is repeated, it loses it charm – or rather its terrorizing effect. Today, horror has made its way into the high school syllabi of the country. Be it in the form of short stories or longer plays, revulsion is a welcome change to thrill the people’s minds. This cult has enjoyed a booming past with a brighter future ahead.

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