Day 6 of Frights: How to Write Horror Stories

I don’t write much Horror. In fact, until I had decided to do the 31 day’s of Frights I never even tried to write any horror. Most of what I write is obscure stories about Griffins and Mermaids. However, I do like horror movies, television shows, and novels and figured that you would too.

I met Nathan Englander once, he spoke to my creative writing class about how to be a writer. Now, I know he isn’t a horror writer but his advice speaks to any person who ever wanted to take a pen to paper and write. He said to find an author who’s writing you like, and copy their style until you create your own. In Stephen King’s On Writing, he tells the story of the first time he ever wrote anything as a child and how he basically just copied the writing of another until his mother told him to try it himself. I do this, I read a lot of different stories by a lot of different writers about dystopias because I know that eventually it’ll sink into my head how to write a dystopian novel that is all my own.

King of Horror

Aside from reading a lot of Horror and trying to emulate horror authors, there are a number of websites that give differing advice about creating horror stories.

According to WikiHow, the formula for creating a horror story is lots of exciting and scary twists, an exciting first sentence and to end with a bang. I’m inclined to believe the part about scary twists but I don’t think there needs to be a million twists. I don’t remember Carrie having that many twists. y

On Read Write Think ( an instructional guide for children gives ideas about how to write scary stories. The guide suggests that horror stories are about the descriptive words and phrases that the author use. They also utilize a number of different story plotting worksheets. Although, Read Write think created the sheets with children in mind they are still great devices.

Over at Fiction Factor they have some very good advice on how to write horror. They suggest that the author preform thorough research about the subject matter. This way you don’t end up having to admit that you’ve never read anything about vampires nor done any significant research about them like some authors. (See Stephanie Meyers admit she knows nothing about vampires here )

doesn't follow the rules

The best of this advice is:

  1. Read a lot of horror about your subject.
  2. Research like no ones business
  3. Write as much as you possibly can
  4. Revise, revise, revise
  5. Get a friend to read your stuff. (and if you don’t have a friend, I’ll read anything and give you my honest opinion)

If you don’t do those things, while you still might eventually become a published author, respected authors will say things like this about you: “Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good” – Stephen King 2009