1. Lorravan
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    Lorravan Member

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    What makes a good scary story?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lorravan, Apr 10, 2013.

    Hey guys, I wanted to start trying to write horror stories, but I'm having a bit of trouble thinking of ways to scare people. What creeps you out? Also, if you know of any good horror books/authors, a point in the right direction would be appreciated.
     
  2. Quoux
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    Quoux Member

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    Ghost stories and campfire horror stories are a good place to start! I would do a google search for a few.

    As to writing them; well that depends! I can't tell you how to, but I know a few things that might help get you started.

    First off; what kind of horror? Gore? Suspense? Creepy? All of the above? Well, the best thing to do is decide.

    For gore; it's a bit self explanatory. What you might want to remember is having the real gruesome parts at times when the reader doesnt expect it; or, alternatively, to lead the reader into a particularly gory scene! The fulfillment of their expectations might be what they want.

    For suspense; well, imagine yourself in that situation. The adrenaline, the horror, the thoughts, everything! A good addition to horror stories is sentiment; males the reader want to cry at times. For instance, the loss of family members. Suspense, however, will be created as something is leading up to something; think of the horror movies you've seen, as the killer is slowly revealed, or found out by the character. Dramatic Irony plays a big role here! Having the reader know about the existence of a killer in the character's house while the character is unaware will create an immense amount of suspense. From there, you can have the characters do whatever you want; play with the readers mind and nerves. Relatable character's lives being in jeopardy also adds suspense.

    For creepy; well that requires some imagination. WHAT creeps people out? Stalkers certainly do, and that sort of thing. And aliens and ghosts!

    Hope I helped a little. And ALWAYS remember diction and rhetoric! Adds a lot.
     
  3. Lorravan
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    Lorravan Member

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    Thanks! Yeah, I'm going for creepy. I want chills to run up and down the reader's spine, basically.
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've had some horror published, but it's more the suspense than creepy chills type.

    If you can strike the balance, giving just enough description--setting, actions, sounds, smells, etc. to enable the reader's imagination to take over and run with it, you'll do well. An author can never type/word process words that can equal the unleashed creative imagination of a reader.
     
  5. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've found that some people get creeped out when you incorporate something like violence into a setting where it shouldn't exist. If I remember correctly, there was once a real incident where a man got stabbed at a 2yo girl's birthday party.

    There's also violence and then there's violence. Nobody is really creeped out by a "simple" stabbing/shooting/strangling anymore. Be creative when it comes to violence; the more bizarre, the creepier. Check out people like Jeffrey Dahmer and Joseph Mengele who got pretty creative with their violence. Mengele did especially gruesome things with twins (the creepiest was an experiment he conducted on two adult male twins).

    I've found that real crime stories etc. contain far creepier stuff than any fictional work I've encountered so far.
     
  6. CatnipCupid
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    CatnipCupid Member

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    Large spacious homes, family secrets, cold cases, vindicated murders, voices from the past. Frankly, I'd prefer a novel like The Other over one written by John Saul. I do like Saul, because he feeds me psychological terror and gore. But, if I had a choice, I'd choose Thomas Tryon. Not only was he a better writer, but, like I said, I love the realm of possibilities, the idea of alluding to something, the almost really does it for me. Gothic.
     
  7. CatnipCupid
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    CatnipCupid Member

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    That sounds awesome. Well, you know what I mean.
     
  8. Markpearce17
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    Markpearce17 Member

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    Sometimes it seems to me that horror should be understated or not described so that the imagination can take over to paint a better picture than words can tell. Did I explain that okay. Have you read Dark Matter by Michelle Paver (I think!)? This is an example, in my opinion, of a good horror story.
     
  9. CatnipCupid
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    CatnipCupid Member

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    Received good reviews on Amazon. Cabin fever perhaps or something else?
     
  10. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    For me, it's evocation of atmosphere and slow buildup of tension. Unexpected shocks along the way are good, too, and I ditto the idea of contrast between homely setting and dramatic/violent/creepy events.
     
  11. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    Tension, that always gets people scared, play on fears too, for instance clowns (i know its a fairly common one but its better than nothing) use something that some kids like and spin it, whats the clown like normally, select a 'Dark' personality trait (schizophrenia or something of the sorts) and put that into the character... how would he act then, a good one would be a mime, as they are normally silent... Unpredictability is a good idea too
     
  12. madeleinefarraday
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    madeleinefarraday Member

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    I think putting characters into situations where a real person could find themselves, and then adding a frightening element, is always helpful. Like in The Blair Witch Project, anyone could probably imagine themselves getting lost in the woods, but then you add a mysterious, unknown stalker, and a local legend, and a member of the group disappearing, and poof! You have a great horror story.

    Or base it on something people are familiar with - the Bible - and concentrate on one particular aspect, like the coming of the Antichrist - and then you add the backdrop of a family grappling with clues pointing towards finding out that their own child is destined to be a monster. Poof! A horror story: the Omen movies. Excellent way to play on people's fears, especially those that know the Bible well. Great horror.

    Take something familiar and add something unexpected. :)
     
  13. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    I like settings where things unexplainable suddenly pops out.
     

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