The fear Factor

Posted: December 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

I am in the process of writing a zombie horror story and want it to be as good as it can be, so for it to work as a horror story it has to be scary. So how do you make a horror story scary? well I’ve done some research and here is what I’ve found.


Writing a horror story is basically the same as writing any story, the main difference is the emotions you target. In any story the reader needs to connect with the main characters so they can feel what the character feels, the world they exist in has to be believable. You need to connect with the readers imagination, feed it just enough so it can create the right setting. Show not tell is a phrase all writers are familiar with and is a fantastic tool for getting the reader in the place you want them to be. Getting your characters right is essential, if a reader doesn’t connect with the characters then they are not going feel the fear when the shit hits the fan. Although writing a horror story is very similar to writing any story there are a couple of areas the horror writer can use to scare the reader, Shock and suspense. Shock can be the spark that sets the scene for a scary moment, suspense carries the reader to the conclusion. Whilst you dangle your reader in suspense the tension builds then bam! the shock.

Familiarity is also another tool the horror writers uses, a lot of zombie stories i have read recently  have one way or another used the increasing paranoia that a deadly disease will wipe out the human race. With the increasing tensions with the middle east a terrorist attack with a “dirty bomb” is perfectly plausible and worries a lot of people these days. This could go someway in the recent popularity of zombie movies and the success of the walking dead. Image

Turning things on their head is another good way to freak out your readers, things that people normally find cute or funny can be disturbing if done convincingly. The cute little girl who is possessed, the killer clown, the cute doll that comes to life sends a shiver down most peoples spine. I have just finished reading Frankenstein a brilliantly written story which has remained a horror classic for two hundred years, obviously times have changed a lot since then and stories these days are far more gory and sick but it still holds its own as a good horror story. A man pursuing his dream of saving the world and discovering wonderful things to help mankind ends up creating a monster which destroys his family and his life. some of the scenes still sent a shiver down my spine. The fear of the dark, the fear of being alone and the fear of the supernatural make the story a timeless classic. I would love to know what you think makes a great horror story. read one of my short stories maybe and let me know if you think they have the elements or what story you think has it all.

  1. I think the greatest element in horror is not knowing. Take House of Leaves or anything by Shirley Jackson as a example. When the reader/viewer has just enough information and their minds do the rest. When we don’t know we start to craft our own dread and it builds and builds until we finally see the aftermath like filling in the actions between comic panels. True elements of horror are almost forgotten in the gore porn tat has saturated the genre. Totally had something more but I forgot to sign in to post my first reply.

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