Essentials of a Good Scary Story

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October is the month of ghosts, goblins and vampires. It is the season of fear and the home of Halloween, it is also the ideal time of year to read, and write, scary stories.

The history of the horror story dates back to the beginning of time, and modern-day horror stories fly off the shelf as fast as they are printed. Authors like Stephen King, Dean Koontz and even Edgar Allen Poe have turned the art of the horror story into the popular genre it is today.

Writing horror can be rewarding, and interesting work, but there are basic essentials that every horror story should have if it hopes to gather an audience and frighten the reader enough to keep them coming back for more.

The Essentials of a Good Horror Story:

The basics of good horror are not much different from that of any written work. Good characters, good plot and plenty of detail make up a great portion of any story, but there are things that a horror story must contain if it hopes to be successful and the least bit scary.

  1. Suspense – Every good horror story or movie is built upon suspense. It is that ‘what is going to happen next’ or the ‘I know something is going to happen next’ feeling that pushes the reader to continue on. Good suspense can be built in two ways, either with the reader know what it is that is going to happen but not knowing when, or with the reader not knowing what is going to happen or when it is going to occur. The first example is one of the most difficult to achieve as a writer, Stephen King is the master of this form of suspense. King has the amazing ability to take an event and turn it into pages upon pages of suspense, all while keeping the reader hooked on each and every word. Creating good suspense requires practice, but one of the easiest ways to achieve this is to feed your reader only pieces of the story, little bits at a time. This action causes them to read further in the hopes that the puzzle will all fit together in the end. There is no short cut for creating suspense, it is all in the details and it takes time to write. Be patient and prepared to edit often.
  2. Death – Death is a major part of fear in humans and is a major detail in all, scary stories. Death in your writing does not have to be gruesome to create fear, but it has to be realistic. Using death to induce fear in your reader is not a difficult skill to master, it is about leaving blanks of information to be filled in at a later time. It goes hand-in-hand with suspense and all other aspects of horror writing and again, it all takes time.
  3. Realism – No matter the plot of your story it has to have some sort of realism. What was considered scary 10 and 20 years ago is not the same as today. Society has been desensitized to the horror story over the years, ghost, goblins and alien invaders are not considered the doom they once were. Horror stories today have far more realistic plots and min-altering story lines that leave the reader wondering if they could possibly be true. You can still utilize the old favorites of ghosts and vampires, but you need to be sure that you will be able to use them in a new and exciting way. No longer can a writer simply ‘create’ something and claim it to be true, today’s stories must back up their creations with proof if they truly hope to induce fear.
  4. Suggestiveness – This is another element that helps to build upon suspense, to induce fear and write a good horror story you must leave it to the reader’s imagination. Feed your readers only what you must to make the story move, but allow their imaginations to create the rest, right up until you bring on the ‘big twist’ and the shocking end.
  5. Strong and believable characters – As with any other genre, believable characters play a major role in the horror story. Your readers must connect with your characters, they must want them to live, and they must be engrossed in their battle to survive. Also, you must have that character that your readers hate as well, that character that they know is doomed, and they truly don’t care. Be sure that you spend a lot of time on character creation if you are planning on writing a horror story, as with every other element involved, this will take up time but the result is worth it. Horror stories are often character driven, so if you go wrong here you run the risk of ruining the entire story right from the start.

Things to Remember While Writing Horror:

If you want your story to be a success remember the following…
Avoid clichés – Too many scary plots have been played to death, avoid the obvious fearful situations such as, a woman alone in a dark house, the experiment gone bad, the haunted woods, and the Ouija board are just a few. If you have seen it a hundred times, read it a hundred times, or told it around a campfire when you were 12, choose another scenario.
Be Realistic – You can not get away with writing a story these days that is based solely on fantasy, it just won’t fly. Readers want stories that are realistic in at least some sense. Even if your idea is based on fantasy you must have some realistic elements to back it up. Scientific evidence is a major part of today’s top-selling horror novels, it requires a lot of research on the writer’s part, but it also helps make the story more believable and thus more frightening.
Be Aware of the Gore – There is a fine line between gruesome and grotesque, be aware of the gore content in your writing. You want to scare your readers, but not completely gross them out. Keep the gruesome details to only the necessities  and avoid going overboard.
Keep it Organized – It is absolutely imperative that you keep your information organized or you risk losing your reader’s attention. There is a ton of prep-work to be done when writing scary stories, and keeping organized notes can make the whole process a lot easier on you as the writer.
Set the Stage – Both your characters and your setting should help set the stage for your main point of conflict. Right from the start of your story you need to connect the two and create instant suspense.
Remember that God is in the Details – There is nothing more important that good detail to the writing of a horror story. Use descriptive words, explain and describe the surroundings, characters and emotions. Horror relies on the reader being able to visualize the scene in their mind so the more vivid the image the more fearful they will be when the time comes. There is no need to go overboard, but make sure that your readers can see the scene as you do being the writer.
Until Next Time…
Write On!
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Sure-Fire Ways to Kick-Start Creativity

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Writer's Block

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Keeping your content fresh and up-to-date is an important part of running a successful blog. Finding the inspiration to write new and fresh posts can often pose a problem.

Below is a list of a few sure-fire ways to kick-start your creativity and get you writing:

  • Forget Your Focus and Just Write – Not every word you jot down is going to end up in a great piece of writing. One of the greatest ways to get inspired is to forget that you need inspiration. Sit down with a pen and paper, or your computer, and just write without expectations or direction. Free writing like this can create an abundance of brilliant ideas. Don’t concern yourself with making sense or staying on topic, just write whatever comes to mind and then save the results for a later time when they may help to spark your creativity.
  • Tamper with Titles – One of the ways I get myself writing when I am in a rut is to create a list of ‘titles’ I want to write. Like headlines in the newspaper I come up with catchy post titles and work from there. I always keep this list handy, adding to it, and completing posts as I go. By writing only the titles you may find yourself creating topics that require deeper research, more creativity, or entirely different perspectives. Every time a catchy title comes to mind jot it down, it may turn into your top post!
  • Mind your Memories – When you are in serious need of inspiration it sometimes helps to refer to the ‘good-old-days’. Telling stories has always been a big part of human nature, use stories from your past to enhance your present. Share a great childhood memory, or tell of a time that you overcame a fear, write about your greatest success, or even your crazy Uncle Billy. Your story can become everyone’s story if you take the time to tap into the endless inspiration you hold within your mind.
  • Re-write to Ignite – Another simple way to find inspiration and creativity is to review and re-write your older posts. Chances are you have some very old content that could use a bit of a ‘face-lift’, reviewing and re-writing these posts will not only help the overall appearance of your site, chances are it will inspire you to write something new, or expand on an old idea in a new way. In the very least your blog will be fresh and showcasing your best material.
  • Read to Write – If you are trying to write about a specific topic it often helps to see what others are writing about it. Often tips I will search a specific topic, quickly view a few articles, and wait for inspiration to strike. If you are not writing about anything specifically then try checking out the top searches today, top news, top tweets, or just hit random websites for inspiration. StumbleUpon is great source of inspiration, taking you to different websites based on your interests.  Reading anything will usually help if you keep an open mind and allow yourself creative freedom.
  • Remember the Routine – The most basic advice to writers will hold true until the end of time. Make Time To Write! This can not be stressed enough. Having a regularly scheduled writing time will get your mind in gear for writing. Pencil in some writing time everyday to help fight writer’s block. By keeping writing as part of your daily schedule you will not only be forming a good habit for a career, but you will be prompting your creative mind to be ready as well.

The most important thing to remember when you are lacking creativity is to keep searching for inspiration, but don’t overwhelm yourself. If you are getting frustrated move on to something else until you are ready to face the challenge again. Writers on every level suffer from lack of creativity at some point, just keep writing and never give up.

 

What do you do to beat writer’s block?
Share your tips and tricks in the comment section below. 

Until Next Time…

Write On!

 

*Questions, comments, or submissions can be sent to: perfectlyprompted@live.ca*

Flash Fiction Challenge Post 2

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I have just posted my second story in my month of July Flash Fiction Challenge over on Complicated Chaos. Feel free to check it out. The story is titled ‘Higher Power

 

As always comments and feedback are appreciated, and feel free to share links to your own site as well…

 

 

Until Next Time…

Write On!

Flash Fiction Challenge – Post 1

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July 1st marks the first day of my personal “Flash Fiction Challenge” feel free to check out my first attempt at writing a very short story. Comments and feedback are always appreciated.

You can view the post on my personal creative writing site Complicated Chaos, or by clicking HERE!

 

 

 

 

Until Next Time…

Write On!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Challenging Creativity….

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*Re-blogged From: Complicated Chaos*

I have decided that I need to, not only expand on this site, but on my creative writing as well, thus the content of this post….

Today as I was stumbling around WordPress I came across a site that inspired me to challenge myself. Elisa Michelle ofelisamichelle.wordpress.com wrote a post about her current Flash Fiction Challenge as well as a second challenge she has decided to face in the month of July.

Not knowing much about what Flash Fiction is, I read on, as she explains Flash Fiction is a story with normal plot elements (exposition, rising action, climax and resolution) condensed into 55 – 1000 words. This got me thinking, and searching the internet, and led to me reading a wide variety of Flash Fiction stories.

Seeing as I want to expand on my creative writing, but don’t see to have much free time these days, I decided that this would also be a great way to challenge myself as a writer to explore my creative abilities, while not overwhelming, or forcing myself, to write at length when I don’t have the available time.

And so, I have decided that I will take inspiration from Elisa Michelle and challenge myself to my own Flash Fiction challenge for July. Though I can not ‘promise’ I will be able to post every single day, I am going to aim to write at least 20 Flash Fiction stories throughout July and post them here on this site, as well as on Complicated Chaos (my personal creative writing site) under the new ‘Creative Writing‘, ‘Flash Fiction Challenge’ categories.

This “challenge” is a very new thing for me, and the stories I produce are not guaranteed to be any good, but it is a way to encourage myself to write and be creative.

Stay tuned for tonight’s post, the first of my Flash Fiction Challenge stories, that I hope will open my mind and get me in a creative writing habit.

Check out some of the Flash Fiction postings at Zenvirus.com to get a clear idea of what Flash Fiction is all about…

If you are starting a challenge, or looking to explore your own creativity, feel free to share your progress, and links, here or join me on this challenge if you want to get creative.

Comments, links, and submissions are always welcome below or can be emailed to:
perfectlyprompted@live.ca

 

Until Next Time…

Write On!

 

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