“We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.”
Writing can be a scary business.
Whether alone or with others, it requires a lot of risk on our part. We bare our souls, share our secrets with the world.
Or we put them in a story and call it fiction. Yeah, that's it.
I'm kidding, sort of.
But today I want to talk about writing scary stories, not living them.
So you love horror. Great--so do lots of people, and there are many potential markets. Paying markets, even. Well, not paying much. But still. Did I say paying? We'll get to that in a bit.
What's the best way to start writing horror stories?
Ask yourself this:
What makes you anxious? What scares you the most?
What is the most terrifying situation you can imagine?
Your worst nightmare?
What grosses you out?
Avoid clichés. But if you have a new take on that cliché, go for it. There is always room for something new.
Then take your protagonist, and drop her into it. Increase the tension as you go. Make her situation worse and worse until you can't imagine making it any worse.
But then do. And do it a little more. Until she is about to break.
Up to you whether you want to rescue her, leave her to figure it out, or give it a twist ending.
And if, after researching the form and writing your story, you are feeling a tad sordid?
Just remember Chuck Wendig's wise words on the subject:
"I don’t know what it is, but goddamn if horror writers aren’t some of the nicest writers on the planet. I think it’s because their fiction is like constantly lancing a boil: the poison is purged, and all that’s left is smiles."
Some markets & other interesting links