How to Write Better Horror Stories

Tips for writing horror stories

Tips for writing horror stories.

Please welcome guest author P. Wish with an insightful post that features eight ways to write better horror stories.

So you want to write better horror? The question is, how?

This article breaks down the process into eight easy tips, focusing on how to find inspiration, the right setting, and support system for your work.

1. Turn on Some Spooky Music: Music helps create the right atmosphere for writing. Atmosphere is especially important for horror stories as the fear factor rides on it. If you’re writing an anticipatory scene, try something like “Moonlight Sonata” (the first part). If you’re writing the climax, listen to a piece that is more dramatic. You could also use music by your favorite rock bands or pop artists. So turn on some scary music and get writing.

2. Watch Horror Movies: Horror movies help you visualize the structure of a horror story. Compared to books, movies are a quicker way of learning. They also give you an overview of plot, tone, atmosphere, and characters in under two hours. This not only helps build your storytelling and plotting skills but also helps you establish the tone of your book.

3. Read Mythology: This is essential for horror writers. Most horror revolves around paranormal phenomena and myths. Poltergeists, ghosts, shamans, Yetis, and monsters are all characters from folklore. To broaden your range of inspiration, try reading myths from other parts of the world. Japan has some amazing myths about vengeful female ghosts and other interesting supernatural creatures. Such myths also exist in many other parts of the world. Drawing on a broader range of inspiration will make your story unique.

4. Stay up to Date: Keeping up with research in parapsychology, metaphysics, telekinesis etc. is a good place to start. The findings in these fields directly influence your story’s content. Stephen King, in his interview with the Guardian, said that an article about poltergeist activity and its relation to telekinesis served as inspiration for his masterpiece, Carrie. Staying up to date with research in this field will help you form ideas. These ideas lie around in your mind until the find they right character or plot to get them going.

5. Write in the Dark: The dark creates the right atmosphere for ideas to flow. I can’t emphasize how important atmosphere is for horror. Horror is largely dependant on the setting and atmosphere. Movie theatres use this tactic to enhance your viewing experience. It works for writing too. Writing in the dark helps you focus. It also creates an atmosphere of non-judgment and freedom. Both of these account for better ideas. You may also find that you’re more productive when you write with the lights off. So set aside an hour or two at night to write in the dark.

6. Study Horror Novelists: The lives of horror novelists are a source of learning for any aspiring writer. Read and watch interviews, subscribe to their blogs, and follow them on social media. Their posts might be your source of inspiration. Seeing them do it day after day motivates you to write something new. Their struggles may inspire you. There is a treasure trove of useful information hidden in a writer’s autobiography. Following your favorite horror writers on social media is the next best thing. It helps you understand their writing process and emulate it.

7. Use an Idea Generator: Idea generators are often thought of as generic, useless, and rehashed. This is because writers make the mistake of copying the suggestions given by the generator. Choose a generator that is specific to horror and tailor the generator’s outputs to your story.

8. Read the News: The news is more grim than you think. Stories about events such as kidnappings or poltergeist activities are relevant to horror writers. If you want to receive specific news, subscribe to the RSS feed of your favorite news channel. The news helps bridge the connection between fantasy and reality. It can also be a source of inspiration to horror writers.

I hope these tips help you write better horror stories. Feel free to combine the tips and use them in any order that fits with your writing style.

p wishAbout the Author: P. Wish is a self-published author, illustrator, and blogger. You can find more information about her on

About Guest
Please view our submission guidelines for information about submitting a guest post. Details available by hovering over Blog in the main menu, then clicking Submitting Guest Posts.


2 Responses to “How to Write Better Horror Stories”

  1. Tia says:

    Halloween mood is in the air! You got me the impetus to write a terrifying story which could grate on readers’ nerves. The most I like in horror stories is gradation and unexpectedness. I’m crazy about reading horror stories or mystery tales written by Edgar Allan Poe…But I’ve noticed that this genre is dried up, because of reiteration..I mean it is easy to find something similar that is why I feel nothing while read. I want to be in cahoot with the protagonists, I want to feel what they feel. How to explain… Uniqueness is a key. For instance, do you know that Disney self-plagiarized? Have a look All in all, I believe that this article would inspire young writing generation to develop their special style! Thank you P. WIsh! Your aticle made my day!

    • P. Wish says:

      Dear Tia,

      Thank you for your lovely comment. I agree that the genre is not as interesting as it used to be. However, tip 3 comes in really handy here. Expanding sources of inspiration to horror tales from other countries or even other genres helps inject some originality into the plot. All the best with your new horror story.