Halloween Hop: Writing Scary

I’m a part of the Aussie Owned and Read Haunting Halloween Hop, and I have to say, I’m not usually an advocate for anything scary. I’m the type of person who will park under a streetlight, not in the shadows. I get my husband to call me as I walk home from the train station to my car, when I’m crossing the deserted road with its super-dark shadows. I even sometimes check under the bed for those nasty monsters … you know, in case they migrated from next to the station to a more domestic location.


When it comes to writing scary, I don’t know a heap about it. The first story I wrote as a “grown-up” (read: older than 25) was a horror story, and to my surprise, it won a short story competition.

That then inspired me to write a graphic novel horror story with an illustrator friend of mine, based on the concept of modern day fairytales and old school mythology.

Still, the idea of writing horror struck me as hard, until I broke it down into three key pointers — for me. For other people, I’m sure there ar better tools, but this is just what I have learnt:

1. Build the tension. You know what’s scarier than a monster under your bed? The idea of a monster under your bed. (NB: Easy for me to say, as have never had said bed monster). But seriously, often the threat of the unknown can be so much worse than real life. Build on your worst-case outcomes, and show me just how petrified you can be.

2. Involve yourself. In the first horror I wrote, I tried to think of the thing that would sicken me the most. For me, animal cruelty is absolutely abhorrent, so in my novel, the killer had dissected animals when he was younger. Did I write it into the story? No, as it wouldn’t have fit the plot, and I think I would have been uncomfortable with it. Did it help me create a more well-rounded character, when he’d go to stab my hero and I’d think ‘Well, he did dissect that puppy when he was six?’ Abso-freaking-lutely.

3. Use your craft. Use your craft to make the story scarier. Use shorter, snappy sentences to convey a sense of urgency and action. Don’t tell me what “you hear”; show me the footsteps thudding down the hall, making the whole house shake. Show me all the senses; can you smell and taste death in the air?

Yeah. See now, I’m afraid.

Want to see more blogs in the Halloween Hop? Check out the Link here. And if you want to share your scary post, don’t hesitate to join up!



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