Can I Write Horror?

The ShiningSo it turns out my (still unnamed) character wants to have a horror story written. Before I even go any further, let me explain that I have never – and I mean ever – written horror. I wouldn’t even know where to start!

The most horror I’ve read is probably Stephen King. I’m not a great horror reader. And as for horror films – it takes me years to build up the courage to attempt to watch one.

So, I have this great character, without a name, who doesn’t fit into any story except for one that’s going to scare the hell out of me when I write it (or, if I get it right, it will) … Nothing’s ever easy.

The opening is easy enough – I mean, I’m not going to start out with something terrifying, as even a horror-newbie like me knows that you have to build tension first. But now I’m on analysis-paralysis: is it too boring? Is there enough tension? Have I given away too much? Have I not given away enough? I have edited and re-hashed the opening so many times that I’m not sure that anything of the original remains.

Which may not be a bad thing – between starting the first sentence and getting to word 1,630 (which is where I am now – too much editing has made for a very slow start), I’ve watched enough episodes of season one of American Horror Story to leave me sleepless for a month, and gathered enough horror stories to bury a suitably-scary-thing under. Therefore, I can assume that I have picked up a little of the horror mindset along the way. It would certainly explain the constant state of mild fear I now live in that I’m going to be haunted/murdered/chased by monsters, but also the conviction that in a zombie apocalypse I will be totally fine and somewhat resemble Milla Jovovich (in action, not in appearance; I’m not kidding myself).

I’ve put this question out to Twitter a few times now, and so I ask you, dear blog followers:

What scares you?

What makes a good horror story? What is your greatest fear? What do you want to read when you pick up a horror story? If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it right. Unfortunately, my irrational fear of sharks won’t translate to a land-based storyline, so I have to get creative. And please, no clown suggestions – even I’m not brave enough to write about scary clowns.

WIP Word Count: 1,630



Filed under Writing

5 responses to “Can I Write Horror?

  1. doctormimi

    Someone from a forgotten misdeed of my past, coming for a well-researched revenge. Um.. Just going to lock the front door…

    • I’ve always liked the idea of something from the past coming back – it has so much to work with. Oddly enough, I thought Skyfall did this quite well (although I don’t foresee my book having as many explosions), but then I am a Bond fan and Bardem was a particularly good villian-bent-on-revenge.

  2. Myfanwy Rodman

    I find that the unseen is much more scary that the obvious or anything described in detail. Also what sort of horror are you writing? Slasher, supernatural, thriller, literary, ‘cos that will affect pacing, reveal, atmosphere etc.

    To find out if its scary, your best bet is probably to send your draft round a few people, they should be able to give you feed back on what’s working and what’s not.

    Scary is very personal i think, different for everyone. 🙂

    I’m quite into horror if you want any tips i might be able to help 🙂

    • At the moment it’s proving to be a blend of supernatural and thriller – with very thriller-ish leanings in terms of pace and plot. I think I may have to call on you as a guinea pig!

  3. DearStephenKing

    Excellent! Go for it, write horror!
    Perhaps, if you’re not a blood & gore horror person, your Unnamed Character would appreciate a gothic setting? I really love gothic genre – which can be scary, but isn’t always – (ie Wuthering Heights). Stephen King’s ‘Bag of Bones’ is a good example of contemporary American gothic that is well paced and intense with many gothic elements: haunting sounds, wild weather, supernatural events, impossible romance – but it’s not actually horror (well, I wouldn’t say it is!).
    Good luck! Let us know how you go 🙂

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