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Ideas for a Horror Story


When writing a horror story, pacing and mood are two of the most important storytelling elements. For example, imagine you are writing a story about a guy who killed someone, as in Edgar Allan Poe’s, “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Set the mood by introducing fear in small doses, such as a clue every few sentences. Make the reader doubt his own mind as to whether something happened. Introduce evidence or opinions to support both sides so that you keep the reader in a state of fear. Build the pace slowly toward a crescendo. For the climax, introduce a finale the reader had not considered.

Crazy Isn't Enough

here is always something responsible for sending a horror story character in one direction or another. Motivation is always a factor in this respect. If a seemingly normal mother takes great delight in drowning her children in some dark, sinister forest, it isn't sufficient that she is just simply "crazy." Think about what sent her over the edge or why she is in that forest. You could also decide whether there is a forest at all.

Be Bad

Many successful horror stories are about secrets. In a horror story, a person’s darkest thoughts, images, vengeful feelings and worst nightmares can manifest as fodder. Ideas for a horror story may include narratives that encompass how a character decides to systematically murder someone or a group of people, whether it might be with poison, torture or weapons. Elaborate on the detail as much as you can. A great horror story often deals with unpalatable psychological aspects or negative features of the human persona.

Involve Children

There is probably nothing more horrendous to a reader than involving children in some horrific scenario. For example, create a horror story about a high-class league of women who run a girl’s school and who go to great lengths to protect them from all harm. Somehow, someone or something comes to town and the girls begin to disappear -- but nobody can find any clues. Slowly, the social structure of this formerly cozy, safe town begins to unravel.

Think Weird

Horror story characters are sometimes just plain weird. It is a common and often frightening feature throughout some of the most powerful horror stories. If you want an idea for a horror story, think about whether or not a relative of yours spends a lot of time alone. Try to expand on this to speculate about why he prefers solitude. Perhaps he hears voices that compel him to act in ways most people would consider strange. Rather than focusing on his behavior, you could spin the story and change it from first to third person. Ask yourself how far this character's relatives would go to get him to "behave" himself and to conform.

About the Author

Vaughnlea Leonard started her professional writing and editing career in 2005. Her work has appeared in "Press Journal," "Atlantic Publishing Company" and "Hometown News and Florida Today." A former military police enlistee and Florida certified educator, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Central Florida.

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