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This week: Writing Tips for Scary StoriesEdited by: Lonewolf
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Have you ever read a book that makes you fear your own shadow? Have you read through words that are so intense that the hair on the back of your neck stands up? Wouldn't you love to write a story that makes other people feel the exact same way? I hope this newsletter is able to help one of your create the next great scary story.
Write about what scares you
One of the most important writing tips for a horror story is that you cannot produce a good horror book or short story if you are not willing to confront your own fears. To write a scary story, you must be willing to dig deep down inside of yourself. You also have to force yourself to daydream and imagine yourself in a frightening situation. If you allow yourself to be the main character, then you will make that character appear more real because you are pouring your fears, anxiety and emotions into him/her. Some of the best novels are real life horror stories, so if a scary event or situation has happened to you, then write about it.
Study the craft
If you have the desire and drive to write horror stories, then you should have the passion to read horror novels and watch horror films. Do not bother trying to write a horror novel or short story if you do not like to read this genre. Reading is the foundation of good writing. From reading works by other authors working in the horror genre, you will develop yourself as a writer of substance and style.
Set the Stage
Some horror authors have been successful by creating their own timing in their novels, rather than following the typical rules. The typical rules for scary stories, however, are great ones to follow. A great way to start your horror novel is to jump right into suspense. Do not have the scariest scene be in the beginning; you have to build up to it. Just begin with something that will grab the reader's attention. Anything can be scary at a cemetery, a boarded-up mansion, a creepy castle, a bayou swamp or deserted fairgrounds. These settings are used frequently in scary stories, novels and movies, and audiences never tire of them because they instantly conjure apprehensions that death is skulking around every dark corner.
A black cat lurking in an alleyway. A strange noise coming from the dark woods surrounding a campfire. The high school quarterback and head cheerleader smooching in a convertible when suddenly a monster rips his/her head off. All of these scenarios instantly conjure up memories because they are a few of the obvious horror clichés. Explore original ways to create fear in your story. Maybe your scenes will involve classic horror elements done with a unique twist, or maybe the scenarios do not resemble past works at all. Strive for originality.
What makes horror stories so scary is how real they seem. Even though the majority of horror is fiction, it still has to seem like it could actually happen. Beginning horror writers can try writing about their home towns and personal experiences. Then add in a frightening element, such as a murderer or ghost. Starting with a real place, person, or even situation will make your horror story sound real right away. By using a setting that's familiar, and spinning a scary premise, you're not only making them picture a real place as they read but also planting the seeds to remember your story every time they do one of the most mundane of things.
Excerpt of Say Hello to the Dodo:
Two months ago, I killed the last vampire.
It's never like it is in the movies. On the big screen, you've always got the hunk of a hero fighting some nasty baddie with guns blazing or knives flying. They both fight until they're bloody and sweaty and just when it looks like there's no possible way for good to triumph over evil, the hero finds some sort of last minute strength and slays whatever it is he's fighting. That's every action movie ever made. It's a good formula to follow, but don't ever think that it happens that way in real life.
Excerpt of Be Careful What You Wish For:
Lilith painted black make-up in long strokes around her eyes, defying any pale skin to show through. She looked at her reflection in the mirror with detachment, feeling neither pleasure nor disdain for her appearance. As usual she covered her small, fragile frame in layers of black. Combat boots over lace stockings met a vintage dress partially concealed by an over-sized trench coat that almost reached the floor.
Her reflection had a face like that of a doll, small and diamond shaped with a small button nose and blue eyes that were both large and haunting. Her lips were full and painted the color of fresh blood.
Excerpt of The Wonderful Mr. Vampire:
Frowning, the vampire stopped walking and placed his suitcase neatly down on the cobblestone sidewalk. He unclasped the case and pulled out a bottle. It was filled with lamb's blood.
He gingerly unscrewed the cap off and downed half the bottle at once. The vampire winced at the off taste. Lamb's blood was a poor substitute for fresh human blood - but it would have to do for now. He lazily pivoted on the sidewalk, taking in his calm surroundings. He was on Tottenham Road, he was sure of it. The London Streetfinder had identified this quiet road as a short blue squiggle feeding off the main road (which was a fat black squiggle), added on almost as an afterthought.
Excerpt of Reunited:
Gowan Macgregor stood outside the castle, the wooden cart carrying the body of his dead son resting behind him, and beat on the massive wooden door.
"Open to me, vampire!" He screamed. "I mean to see you!"
The waning moon, like a bleached cat's eye staring down on the scene, illuminated the early evening with a pallid light, draining all color, all life, from the world it fell on. It had been dark for over an hour now, Gowan knew the vampire would be awake. Knew he would be preparing to feed. Inside he could hear the echo of his hammering rumble down the lonely hallways and empty chambers.
Excerpt of A Human Weakness:
Aamon felt a lone bead of sweat trickle from his jet-black hair and slide down his cheek as the first rays of light began to peek over the shadowed mountains on the horizon. The deep purple sky burned red where it met the sun creeping over the rocky peaks. The crisp air smelled cleaner and lighter than he remembered, and the lone call of a mourning dove sounded crisper and more melancholy that he remembered. He closed his eyes and let his mind wander. He replayed the day in his head, replayed it a million times as the sweat beaded on his forehead...
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