The horror of writing a horror.


So far, this is the only picture I could find to encapsulate my feelings towards trying to write a horror story that will strike genuine fear into the hearts of those who read it.


It’s a combination of utter annoyance of not being able to construct a story like I have done previously and the ideas I’ve had that have ranged from ‘might be scary’ to ‘that’s from a film come up with something else’ that’s sending me face palm and wide-eyed.

I have got an idea that I’m going to stick with but the process has not been an easy one. I’m riddled with doubt that I won’t be able to scare anyone just with my words. And scare them in a good way, ‘eyes wide, tension built up, possibly screaming, knife in hand ready to defend themselves’, and not in a bad way ‘What is this smeg I’m reading? Why would John do this to me?! What did I ever do to him?’

The idea is based around a group of office workers on a work retreat/drunken weekend in a cabin in the woods. The cabin is state of the art and is more like a mini mansion in the middle of nowhere with plenty of Wi-Fi. No spooky or creepy looking cabin for this lot. The company my characters work for makes money. The forest surrounding the cabin has its own story about a witch that died and haunts the caves that lie deep within the forests depths.

Not amazingly original but it is my first try. And I believe that if a horror story is to be truly scary it should not be just down to how original the premise is but how it is written and how it can scare the reader.

I want to give my first attempt at horror writing the best chance it has so I’m going to try and plan each part of the story down to the last detail. I have found that building the tension within the story is a good start. But how do I accomplish this? My first thoughts were to plant many different seeds into the reader’s mind so they are unsure who the killer is. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a killer at this point. Probably. Maybe plant some red herrings to hopefully put them off the scent.

I still don’t have a concrete ending so I’m going to focus on getting that set in stone before I begin writing as well. This has all sent me into a bit of a writing tailspin. I haven’t had one of these in years.

So, all this has led me to this question.What tips do you have for someone trying to write their first horror story?

Your hints and tips and thoughts would be appreciated.





4 thoughts on “The horror of writing a horror.

  1. There is so much involved in the topic of what you are pondering… with horror and weaving a detailed plot I think you need to have a clear idea of the ending. That will give all our scenes a direction. With a goal in mind choose each scene (or chapter) and concentrate on developing ambiance, tension and pacing and challenge your protagonist with each development. Well that’s my thoughts anyway. those three things aren’t compelling unless there is something to lose, mixing suspense in with horror elements, so they have more of an impact.
    Making gore work in horror is all about making the reader comfortable, and then totally repulsing them with either a visual, feeling, or taboo instance. It is certainly a great craftsman who can pull it off well. Do you have anyone to real through certain scenes to give you honest feedback?

    1. Thank you femaleinferno. My story will be around 5,000 – 10,000 words but I do plan to write out each section of it. To try and craft it the best I can. Developing tension is something I’m looking at but adding ambiance and ensuring the pace is right will help. Thanks again.
      I do have someone who can read through it so I can develop it from there. Gore doesn’t really interest me in writing. I like watching a film for the gore where it is over the top and sometimes funny. I was thinking of buying some solid horror stories to help me as well. I have Bram Stokers Dracula so I might read that again.
      For a third time thank you for help.

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