If you think about it, reading horror stories is a weird way to spend your time. Why would people enjoy being spooked out of their senses? Whatever the reasons are, they sure keep the horror genre flourishing. That’s a great news for first-time horror novel writers such as yourself.
Writing a horror novel is mostly like writing any other genre with minute differences. Your goal here is to scare your readers shirtless and we have some useful pointers that you can follow to do that.
Quick Guide for Writing Horror Novel
Explore the characters first
Your readers must care about what happens with your characters. If you flat out writing about a 10,000-years-old ghoul sucking the life out of your main characters from the start, your readers won’t even know how to react to it.
Let the first few chapters be all about the characters.
Setting up a bit of the scary ambiance at the beginning is fine, but make sure to relate everything to your main characters.
Write about their psychological background too. It can make your readers wonder if the paranormal activities are true or just in the character’s head.
Watch the pacing
A successful horror story is 90% pacing. A bit of exaggeration, you say? Perhaps so, but we just want to stress just how important pacing is when it comes to writing horrors.
Play with sentence length. Give the readers the sense of dreads with long winding sentences. When the horror strikes, use short sentences for better impact.
Pacing is closely related to tension building. Tense moments should be far and between in the beginning and more packed near the end of the story. Remember to give your readers some time to breathe and relax before you hit them with the hammer.
Scare with the settings
In movies, you can use jump scares to make the viewers fall from their chairs. Can’t do that with a book, can you?
Have a read at The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.
Take hints from how the writer describes the Hill House and the many rooms and hallways it has. Couple that with expositions of the rumors, noises, and apparitions. You don’t need to see the house with your own eyes to know it’s bad news.
Stay away from the obvious
A family moving into an obviously haunted house is one theme overused by Hollywood and horror novel writers especially in the US. It’s like a running gag on how clueless families in the states are when it comes to house-hunting.
Avoid the clichés unless you already prepare a twist about it. Use the clichés as a trap, to lead your readers to a false conclusion. Once they’re hooked, smack them with a twist that defies all expectations and common senses. It will blow your readers away.
OK, that’s all for our quick guide for writing horror novels. Care to share what your first horror novel is going to be about?