2 Quick Rules To Writing Horror

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In my research for the Infernous Trilogy, I’ve found two consistent pieces of advice to write the most compelling horror.

  1. Think of a book or a movie that disturbed you the most. I’m not talking about cheap jump scares, but something that unsettled your gut. Maybe it’s just a single picture you found floating around online like the one above, a King novel, or a James Wan film. Either way, likely, it was a relatively vague monster/demon/creature/etc. Here is why over explaining your nemesis can actually be a bad thing.

Detail of the enemy can be your own enemy

All through your writing ventures and your schooling from the age of 6, you’re taught detail detail DETAIL. The more detail the better – so long as it keeps the story line moving. However, this rule has an end in horror writing. Everyone has something that they fear. Whether it’s a memory of their childhood house basement, a scene in a movie, or something that they simply made-up in their head. But – that isn’t someone else’s fear. It’s only yours.

You have a much better chance of scaring the hell out of your readers by painting a vague picture of what your enemy is, but not give away too many details. Maybe your character only sees a silhouette of the beast. Maybe they see it fully, but you just don’t explain it. Why do you do this? Because:

When details end, the reader’s imagination picks up and creates their own worst nightmare.

A side-note as well: When your enemy is unknown, it’s creepier as well. When the reader doesn’t know what the thing in the corner of the room is, it let’s their mind travel to its own darkest depths.

2. Long sentences.Short sentences have their place. But rarely in horror. It’s disjointed. It disrupts the flow. And detail matters. Except when it’s about the nemesis. See?

When you said the scene for each chapter, go crazy with details and long descriptive sentences. Set your rooms, buildings and scenery with such vividness, the reader will see it in their head. Long sentences can suck them into a story.

 

We need more horror writers out there! Comment your thoughts, questions, or details of your latest horror project!

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The Revival Of Horror Movies & Why The Conjuring Is At The Forefront

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The industry of horror movies thrived in the 70’s and parts of the 80’s creating some of the greatest movies in the genre to date. The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, Rosemary’s Baby just pick any and run with it.

Then the 90’s happened. Slasher movies replaced authentic horror movies. Along with these bad movies that passed their way through theaters with as much blood as they could manage, so did jump scares. Jump scares have taken the place where real suspense used to be. Even now, jump scares are some of the only scares you will find in many horror movies. Let’s get this straight right now – jump scares aren’t horror. It’s cheap, and manufactured scares. If a movie can’t get the hair on your arms and neck raised without having something jump in front of you and some orchestra of violins or a mass of drums beating in the midst of silence, then the movie has failed at what it set out to do. The worst part about all of this is the fact that people have mistaken real horror movies for these cheap productions that are only made to make a quick profit.

When was the last time a horror movie was praised on a story and not how many times it made someone jump? Movies like The Apparition, Annabelle, The Unborn, Halloween II and so many others are just profit machines. When did you enjoy a horror movie for the story, the acting, and the genuine horror and suspense experience it gave you?

This is why horror is in need of revival, and James Wan is the reason why such a revival is occurring. In 2010, Insidious came and woke up the dying genre. Insidious featured a unique story that has never or rarely been seen before – at least to my knowledge. A boy falls asleep one night and just doesn’t wake up. There are so many reasons why this movie stands above.

  1. No exorcism: A climax of a horror movie featuring an exorcism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however it’s been overdone and executed in mediocre ways at best. It’s expected and doesn’t do too much for most movies.
  2. No troubling past ridden priest: The Exorcist is the only movie that should be able to use this theme. Everything after is just copying a great movie.
  3. Outstanding acting: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, and scream queen Lin Shaye played their parts flawlessly.
  4. James Wan: His direction is heavily influenced by classic horror. There’s no false scares, and limited jump scares.

Now while Insidious still had some jump scares, the movie doesn’t rely on them. No horror movie nowadays will be completely void of them. But the score of the movie accompanies it, it doesn’t run it. The sequels are also fantastic.

But let’s get on to the reason I decided to write about this…

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The Conjuring hit theaters in 2013 to set a new bar for horror movies to achieve. But why does The Conjuring shine above the rest, against other impressive movies such as Insidious, Sinister, Oculus and…..…oh…….. there aren’t any more well done horror movies recently. Still, the question remains: why is it better?

  1. Enthralling story: After beginning on a chilling note, the movie takes its time getting to the horror aspect. It reminds people that it is a movie just like any other and just because it’s horror, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about the characters. It gives the viewer ample time to know the characters, the family and sympathize with their story and situation. Let’s not ignore the fact that the movie had several children whom none of which were annoying or obnoxious. They were realistic, scared girls living in a haunted house.
  2. Twist on a common theme: Haunted house. It’s been done, it’s been murdered to death twice. However, The Conjuring puts a twist on the overdone “Somebody died here X amount of years ago and now they haunt these rooms.” A witch, pledging their soul to Satan and becoming a demon? Count me in.
  3. Realism: No matter what, horror movies will always be Hollywood versions of the real thing (if you believe in actual possessions and occurrences). But of all the horror movies out there now, The Conjuring’s evil and action scenes are believable – at least compared to others.
  4. REAL HORROR: This is quite possibly the most important reason why The Conjuring is the top in its genre. You know you have something special when you’re halfway through a horror movie and you haven’t seen any special effect/CGI garbage. It’s the fact that there are scenes that you see nothing; no demon, no monster, but you are shaking scared. It’s true suspense that’s not faked and manufactured by jump scares. A perfect example of this is when the one daughter looks underneath her bed…

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What’s your favorite horror movies? Do you agree with this article?

Drop your comments!