Spooktober is in full swing! Yay! So, what’s there to do aside from blogging Halloween themed posts and stories? I’ve been a horror fanatic since the days of borrowing Goosebumps books from the school library, to now. Anyway, the title of this post is pretty self-explanatory. Your ordinary Louse is here to provide some suggestions on how to write in the horror genre, from a horror fan’s perspective. This is for anybody who wants to dip their toes into the icy cold, kelp-ridden waters of creepiness, or for a seasoned horror writer wanting to see things from another person’s perspective. Without further ado, let’s goooooo!
Suggestion #1: Don’t use too many clichés.
Yeah, it’s counterintuitive advice, considering that Horror is a genre chock-a-block full of clichés. An abandoned house where a supposed devil worshipper once lived a hundred years ago? Let’s explore it! The promiscuous friend gets bisected by a psychopath wielding some sharp weapon? Stay virgins, boys and girls! It’s sometimes difficult to avoid some tropes because they actually go hand-in-hand with this genre, but there are some particular aspects of horror (like the examples I just wrote before) that are exhausted.
The story kind of gets predictable–but I’m not saying that it’s a necessarily bad thing (especially if the words flow magically), but it’s just…well, we can often guess/predict what’s going to happen. But…you can probably subvert or write a plot-twist with these clichés too, yet even then you got to try to think outside the box to really *wow* the seasoned horror aficionados. An example of this in film is The Cabin in the Woods (2011), which basically pokes fun at horror clichés (and my friends and I had a great time cracking up the whole time we watched this). However, this leads me to my next suggestion.
Suggestion #2: Don’t overthink it either!
We all want to write something wonderful, and you also want to write a horror that isn’t too cliché and trope-y. You think of elements and think to yourself, ‘damn, that’s been overused’. Inevitably, you get stuck on the plot, and the creative cogs stop spinning. So don’t overthink it!
First off, write the story you want to write. Secondly, review it and ponder what can be changed. The first draft is more than often the worst, and there is always room for improvement. After all, it’s not a sin if certain overused tropes appear in the story; just try not to follow a formula to a T.
Suggestion #3: Think about what scares people.
If we want to tap into other’s fears, then the first (and best) person to refer to is…yourself. What is it that gives you the heebie-jeebies? Are you afraid of the dark? Dolls? Ghosts? Then think about why it scares you. For example, you may be afraid of the dark because you don’t know what’s there.
Also, you can ask you family or close friends (strangers will be creeped out by this question, so I probably wouldn’t ask them teehee!) the same question, if they’re comfortable to answer.
All in all, it’s worthwhile looking into the human psyche and figuring out what triggers primal fear in all of us.
Suggestion #4: Not all monsters are supernatural.
When we think of horror, we think of ghosts, zombies, or even possessed objects. Though, this is a cliché in itself (ugh…see? Inevitable!)–humans can be the monsters. We can do terrible, terrible things to one another, but worst of all, our own minds can do terrible things to ourselves.
A way to write this would be to explore intense feelings. Paranoia, rage, jealousy, and lust are some emotions that can drive people over the edge and do things that they don’t know they are capable of.
Of course, we can frame this in a horror setting. Instead of a werewolf, vampire, ghost, etc., a human is causing terror. A great example of this would be the Aussie film The Loved Ones (2009), and many more. You get my point!’
Anyway, that’s all I got. Maybe, if I think of more suggestions, I might put up a part 2 post. But for now, keeps these tips in mind, and happy writing!
Stay safe, and happy writing!