quite a stupid word when you think about it

On writing horror

I’ve been requested by quite a few folks to give some tips on how to write horror - so here it goes!

1) Start with what you know.  Think about what scares you and then write it down.  Even if you think it sounds stupid or trite, just write it down.  For instance, many people are afraid of spiders.  So write the word “SPIDER” real big at the top.  Then describe everything you hate about spiders.  (They jump, their hairy legs, their creepy eyes, etc etc etc).  Then under that talk about situations when you’ve encountered a spider and/or you would be terrified to find a spider (in the bathtub, crawling along your face, etc).  This your starting point.

2) Don’t rely on cheap tricks.  This means don’t use things like rape, incest, abuse, or mental illness to get a quick plot.  I’m not saying you can’t use these topics (I’ve used them all) but don’t rely on them to carry your story.  It needs to be scary without them.  

3) Be yourself.  You might have a favorite author (cough, cough) but in the end it’s you who is writing.  Your voice matters.  Don’t try to be Stephen King.  Be you!  Don’t know who you are?  That’s OK!  Keep writing and you’ll figure it out.

4) Find the horror in the small moments.  I think it is often tempting to start writing large scale horror.  People go into their first story with the apocalypse in mind.  But remember the small moments.  Think of a time that guy got too close in the elevator or that strange noise you heard in your backseat.  These are where fear comes from.  Once you grasp that, then you can kill all of NYC.

5) Submit your work to be reviewed.  Ge feedback from people you trust  Throw it up on reddit or tumblr and see how it does.  And then take that feedback to heart and improve.  We writers are always working on making our craft better.  Once you think you’re the best you stop growing, and after that what’s the point?

6) MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL - Read as much as possible. I guarantee you will become a better writer if you read more.  Read horror obviously; but also just read good writers.  Hell, read bad writers!  The more you read the more you’ll know what works and what doesn’t.  I recommend you start with Nosleep.  It will give you a lot of different authors with a ton of different perspectives.  

I hope these were helpful!  Feel free to send me your writing question anytime on my twitter.