Food for thought
|Horror Story Ideas
Too many beginners think that writing horror is all about detailed descriptions of disembowelments and gushing bodily fluids. They mistake the use of such elements for artistic audacity and cutting-edge (pun intended) writing. The truth is, though, that such writers are the literary equivalent of the kid who jams his finger up his nose and pulls forth a big old nasty booger so he can wave it in his friends’ faces.
Good horror -- like all fiction that truly matters -- is about affecting readers emotionally. True, revulsion is an emotional reaction, but it’s a simplistic one with a limited effect on readers. They finish your story about a brain-sucking monster, think, Man, that’s sick, and immediately forget all about it. You’ve failed to touch them save on the most shallow of levels.
I’m not saying you should avoid writing about the dark and disturbing. That’s what horror’s all about, from the quiet subtlety of a half-glimpsed shadow on an otherwise sunny day to the in-your-face nastiness of blood dripping from the glinting metal of a straight razor. But if you are, as Stephen King puts it, going to go for the gross-out, it has to arise naturally from the story itself, to be so integral to the tale you’re telling that it can’t be removed without making the story suffer.
Horror is provoking unpleasant, loathsome and disturbing feelings that we all have hidden in our subconscious minds. But remember, it’s ALWAYS about people, and how they deal with it.
Coming up with a good idea for a horror story can be tricky. For instance, you don't want to repeat something that's already been done, but writing what scares you is always a good place to start. Most horror writers are often asked, “Where do you get your ideas from?” A majority of the time, writers find it difficult to answer that question. Because we get our ideas from a plethora of sources — news headlines, novels, television shows, movies, our lives, our fears, our phobias, etc. They can come from a scene or moment in a film that wasn’t fully explored. They can come from a single visual that entices the creative mind — a seed that continues to grow and grow until the writer is forced to finally put it to paper or screen.
I found some cool prompts for story ideas I thought I'd share with you.
1. A girl goes missing in the woods and her parents find only a decrepit and scary doll left behind. They soon learn that the doll is actually their daughter. And she’s alive.
2. A woman wakes up to find her family gone and her doors and windows boarded up with no way to escape.
3. A man wakes up bound to an electric chair.
4. A man afraid of snakes is shipwrecked on an island covered with them.
5. A young brother and sister find an old door in their basement that wasn’t there before.
6. An astronaut and cosmonaut are on the International Space Station when their countries go to Nuclear War with each other. Their last orders are to eliminate the other.
7. A bartender serves last call to the only remaining patron who is the Devil himself.
8. A homeless man is stalked by faceless beings.
9. A spelunker stumbles upon a series of caverns infested with rattlesnakes.
10. A deceased grandma’s old doll collection comes alive.
I hope that maybe you'll be inspired by one or more of these little gems and give writing a horror story a try.