I don’t really work well with scary stories. It doesn’t take a great deal for me to have a nightmare, so I veer away from horror books and scary movies. However, the month of October is rife with the supernatural and horrifying aspect of life. In this month, witches, ghouls, and hauntings are the common occurrences in your everyday life, so I say use that as inspiration for a scary story. I’m really not the best at writing scary stories, but I understand the basics of how one needs to be structured.
When you describe scary stories it’s really tough to make people scared of the scene that you’re writing. If you don’t know what it’s like to write a frightening scene, then I challenge you to this exercise. Take a movie scene that you find particularly frightening and then break it down into a basic script, barring dialogue. Describe everything you can in the scene in detail and when you are finished dissecting the scene add the movement of the characters and descriptions like “blood curdling scream” for dialogue. After that’s all done, take a minute and sit down to read it. If you are a decent writer, then at most it can make a chill go down your spine but other than that the only terror you’re probably feeling is if I’m going to make you do any more tedious chore to prove a point. One of the greatest evocations of fear a writer can use is suspense and mystery. One way of attacking the problem is keeping the reader in the dark while still unfolding a worthwhile plot and character development. It’s an elaborate dance that I have yet to master. If you ever find out the key to master it please make it a point to inform me.
Many writers love to use gore in the stead of the suspense and mystery. I don’t favor gore unless it’s absolutely necessary for the plot to develop. That’s only mostly because I can’t handle it though. I become a bit squeamish at the sight and description of excessive blood or dismemberment. However, since that is a prominent form of writing horror you can use gore to your advantage, even if that means in over abundance. If gore is your forte’, my thought is go big or go home. Creep people out as much as you can. If you can develop a small niche of readers you may be able to build yourself a cult following that will keep your writing afloat. You can be certain of me not being one of them.
Horror is one of the genres that holds plenty of opportunities for creativity. With horror, you can incorporate the normal types of scare tactics involved in writing books, such as murder, suicides, torture, etc. If you want to get very creative with your plot and make sure you aren’t regurgitating the same tale, there are infinite plot variations when you incorporate the supernatural. Ghosts are a regularly used phenomenon when you want to instill fear into a reader, but if the supernatural still doesn’t fulfill your plot intensifying desires, then you could even add science fiction into the mix. There are plenty of ways to make sure that your story is original. All you are restricted by is your imagination.
When you are writing about darker subjects make sure that you don’t follow the path that your characters lead you on. Learn to divorce yourself from the darker nature of the writing so that you don’t find yourself in a morbid depression. All writing can be fun if you let it be. I can’t say for certain that I’d be the best at writing horror, but it would be fun to try.