It’s spooky season, y’all! Holidays can be a wonderful source of inspiration for creative writing pieces, especially Halloween. Here are some tips for writing stories that are sure to leave your readers checking over their shoulders and under their beds.

  1. Use your own experience. Sometimes the easiest way to write an authentic, bone-chilling story is to write what you know. Make a list of your fears, from greatest to smallest, and pick one to expand on. Potential bonus: writing a triumphant ending can maybe even help you conquer that fear on your own.
  2. Use common fears. Maybe you don’t feel like diving into your own deepest fears, and that’s totally understandable. Think about some of the most common fears humans have and go from there. Everyone is afraid of something (even if they don’t want to admit it) so you can bet that whatever you pick, someone out there will be spooked.
  3. Get inspired! Think about your favorite scary movies and books, whether they’re thrillers, horror, or supernatural stories. What makes them scary? What makes you want to read or watch them? Pick out some themes that you can use as inspiration for your own work.
  4. Choose what kind of scary you want your story to be. Is it going to be terror, in which villains and monsters are jumping out to surprise their prey? Is it going to be suspenseful and mysterious, with invisible creatures going bump in the night? How about supernatural, with ghosts and ghouls and vampires? The possibilities are nearly endless. Which brings us to our next tip…
  5. Take risks! There are so many different kinds of fear and horror, so these are genres you can stretch and play with. Take traditional horror movie tropes and turn them on their heads: write about a shy monster; give an every-day object evil characteristic; make the underlying “fear factor” in your story something we generally think is harmless. Take any chance you want, because the beauty of horror and thrill is that they can take almost any form.
  6. Don’t be afraid of writing “make-believe.” Ghost stories can be fun even if you don’t believe in ghosts. Skeletons creeping around can be scary even if you don’t think it’s possible. Stretch your imagination and approach your story from a realm of pure possibility – you never know what you’ll come up with.
  7. Show, don’t tell. Put yourself in your characters’ shoes, or imagine you’re actually standing in the scene you’re describing. Instead of using common adjectives like “scared,” or “terrified,” think about how you feel when you’re scared and terrified, and describe those feelings. What are the physical sensations? What’s going through your mind? Use your own feelings and experiences to create extra life-like scenes and characters.
  8. Use omens. Create foreshadowing by using a creepy character, object, or traditional sign of bad luck, and make your reader squirm in their seat as they try to decipher its meaning.
  9. Don’t give everything away at once. Sometimes not knowing what’s coming next is terrifying enough on its own, so think of some elements of your story you can wait just a little longer to reveal. The suspense will draw your readers in and keep them turning the pages.
  10. Leave your readers wondering. Very few scary or suspenseful stories have perfectly tied up endings. Leaving something to the imagination – like a killer who might be on the loose, or a monster who might not even be real – will make readers walk away with the uneasy feeling that accompanies all great works of horror.
« »

Pin It on Pinterest