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How to Write a Horror Story and Make It Perfect


Writing your own horror story is an interesting and challenging task. This may be your personal project or assignment from your professor. Of course, once you receive such an assignment, you may encounter some difficulties. Starting a horror story is not always easy. Even experienced writers admit that they need to make an effort to create a truly interesting and frightening story. 

But we know how to help you with this, and we are ready to share our experience!

What is a horror story?

Horror is a very popular genre of creative writing. It has one main task: to make the reader afraid. One of the most famous writers in this genre, H.P. Lovecraft, argued that the strongest emotion a person could encounter was fear. And most of all, people are afraid of the unknown. There are many compelling reasons why horror stories are so popular. Like other stories, they help us distract from the real world, feel like a resident of another universe. But horrors still offer a whole new level of emotion. While reading such stories, breathing is intensified, the heart is beating harder, and the blood is freezing. These are the emotions that people experience when riding a fast roller coaster.

This means that you can create your own story that will help you realize your own fears and convey extraordinary feelings to other people! Here are seven basic steps to help you do this.

1. Touch the fears that everyone has

Always remember that people do not read horror stories to have fun. They want to be afraid; they want to feel terrified. All of them are aware of the following forms of fear:

Instinctive fear

These are the fears that arise from some kind of logical or biological basis. It goes about spiders, snakes, darkness, etc. This is what is guaranteed to help you intimidate your readers.


We are afraid of what we cannot know through our logic. We all know that, in fact, no vampires or signs exist. But we cannot be 100% sure. And it is this uncertainty that makes us afraid: what if the monsters are still real?

Social stress

Another great way to arouse a sense of fear among readers is to use tactics of social tension. This is what we face every day, and it seems normal to us, but exclusively in small doses. If you start to escalate, everything will change.

2. Create the right atmosphere

How to determine the “right atmosphere” for your paper? It depends on what story you want to write. There are several subgenres using different styles:

  • Thriller-horror is based on psychological fears. In most cases, this is used at the very beginning of the story.
  • Gross-out horror involves vivid descriptions of human organs, blood sprays, dead bodies, etc.
  • Classical horrors are characterized by a gothic setting and impressive characters. Think of Dracula or Frankenstein.
  • Terror causes pervasive fear among readers. It does not leave them for a long time.

Keep in mind that you can combine different subgenres. This will help you find your own style and create an amazing story. The main thing is that the horror is really powerful and real!

3. Designate the steaks

If you want to make your readers truly appreciate your horror story, you must let them know what is at stake. It is important that your heroes have a specific problem or motivation. What can they lose? What are they guided by? Here are some ideas:

  1. Survival. Most horror stories suggest that characters seek to survive. But perhaps this will not be their only goal. For example, they seek to survive by defeating the enemy.
  2. Close people. If your hero has close people, he probably wants to protect them. This desire is often even stronger than the desire to save their own lives.
  3. Riddles. Some terrible stories tell not about the present danger, but about the horrors of the past. For example, it may be events that take place many years ago, associated with the incomprehensible mystery of the universe.

4. Think about your position

Surely, when you read horror stories or any other books, you begin to experience kinship with the main characters. This is what helps our hearts beat faster because we sincerely worry about the characters. You can choose several strategies for your writing. For example, you may write in the first person, describing all the feelings and fears of the character. This will help catch your reader and keep one’s interest. But you have to do a lot of work because you have to maximize your character as if you are in one’s shoes.

If this causes you any difficulties, try writing a third-person horror story. This approach is very popular with famous authors, even such as Stephen King. On the one hand, you can well convey the character and motivation of the character. On the other hand, a third party may not know all the details, which means that it is normal if you miss some of them. At the same time, you will be able to offer your readers an outsider and independent view of the events.

5. Remember the basics

Before you begin the writing process, you need to study some technical points. These are the basic storytelling rules that will help you build a good and structured story. Here are a few questions, the answers to which will become the basis for your text:

  • What is your protagonist’s motivation?
  • What actions or events led them to this situation?
  • Who are the opponents? What are they guided by?
  • What will help achieve victory, or what will lead to defeat?
  • Are there any final consequences for the actions of the main characters?

Using these answers, you will create a diagram for your horror story. This will help you write your first draft. Add more thoughtful outlines, emotions, details that will interest your reader. Always imagine yourself in the place of your audience. You have to write a story that will be interesting and frightening for yourself. If your lines do not cause you any horror, why should they scare your readers? Better remove weak suggestions and ideas if you don’t feel confident in them. Every phrase should have some meaning according to your outline.

6. Come up with something new

You probably understand that there are many authors who write in the horror style. This means that many methods are already boring and commonplace. If you want to make sure that your story is a breath of fresh air, try to come up with a new creative idea. Of course, you can use popular ones but refine them. For example, you can recall some story from your life, and add elements of horror to it. Or imagine the near future in which vampires and zombies live. It is important to read several other horror stories written by professional writers. This will help you get a complete picture of what has already been used. Some works will also help you find inspiration for creating your text.

7. Use any feedback you can get

Remember that you are not writing your horror story for yourself. You write it for your readers. This means that you must constantly keep abreast of the mood of your audience. Therefore, do not hesitate to seek feedback. Invite your friends, classmates, relatives to read your story and express your opinion. Collect these reviews to analyze them and make changes to your paper. You should be prepared for the fact that you will have several versions of the text. This is normal; many professional writers have come across this. This is exactly what will help you find the best solution and present a horror story. People just will not be able to tear themselves off from reading!

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