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The Bare Bones of Horror Writing

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.

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