Step-by-step guide – Crafting a bone-chilling horror story that will haunt your readers

How to make horror story

Writing a horror story can be an emotional and thrilling experience. Whether you want to create a scary tale about supernatural entities or explore the fears that deeply affect people, it’s important to know how to craft an effective and bone-chilling story. In this post, we will explore the steps and foundations that make up a good horror story.

Step 1: Find Your Tension

The first and most important step in creating a horror story is to find what scares you. Tap into your own fears and think about what you find particularly frightening. Is it monsters, supernatural entities, or societal tensions? Knowing what makes your skin crawl will help you create a story that will have a strong impact on your readers.

Step 2: Develop Your Characters

Good horror stories not only rely on scary elements, but also on well-developed characters. Create characters that readers can relate to and feel for. Whether it’s a group of children with an instinctive fear or a brave and determined protagonist, the characters will be the foundation of your story.

Step 3: Set the Tone

In horror stories, tone is crucial. The tone will set the atmosphere and determine the level of fear your readers will experience. Whether you want to create a tense and suspenseful tone or a dark and creepy one, the tone will establish the mood and enhance the overall scariness of your story.

Step 4: Start with a Strong Opening

The opening of your horror story is your chance to grab your readers’ attention and make them want to keep reading. A good opening should create intrigue and set the stage for what’s to come. Consider starting your story with a shocking event or a chilling description that will immediately draw your readers in.

Step 5: Learn from the Masters

To craft a good horror story, it’s important to study the works of other successful horror writers. Read books, watch movies, and explore various horror genres. Pay attention to how they create suspense, build tension, and develop their characters. By learning from the masters, you can gain a deeper understanding of what makes a horror story truly terrifying.

With these steps and a draft of your story in hand, you’re well on your way to creating an effective and affecting horror story. Remember to create strong themes that speak to common fears, avoid common horror clichés, and use the right tense to increase the level of scariness. In no time, you’ll have a truly terrifying piece of writing that will leave your readers on the edge of their seats!

How to Write a Horror Story in 12 Steps

Writing a horror story requires a strong foundation and understanding of the common themes and elements that make a story truly scary. In this post, we will take you through 12 steps that will help you craft an effective and chilling horror story.

  1. Start with an idea: Every great horror story starts with a unique and captivating idea. Let your creativity flow and think about what scares you the most. Your own fears and societal tensions can be great sources of inspiration.
  2. Know your genre: Horror is a vast genre, encompassing everything from supernatural entities to psychological terrors. Understand the particular sub-genre you want to write in, whether it’s monsters, ghosts, or more subtle forms of fear.
  3. Create compelling characters: Like any good story, the characters in your horror story will be the driving force behind the plot. Develop realistic and relatable characters that will draw the reader in and make them care about what happens to them.
  4. Set the tone: Establish a dark and eerie atmosphere from the very beginning. Use descriptive language to create a sense of foreboding and build tension throughout the story.
  5. Build emotional tension: Fear is an emotional response, so it’s important to tap into the reader’s emotions. Create situations that evoke a strong emotional response, whether it’s fear, disgust, or anxiety.
  6. Learn from the masters: Study the works of acclaimed horror writers to understand what makes their stories so effective. Take note of their writing style, pacing, and use of suspense.
  7. Avoid clichés: While there may be common themes and tropes in horror, try to bring a fresh perspective to your story. Avoid relying too heavily on overused clichés and instead focus on creating unique and unexpected scares.
  8. Draft and revise: Your first draft is just the beginning. Revise your story multiple times, refining the plot, characters, and scares. Polish each sentence to create a tight and impactful narrative.
  9. Instinctive fears: Identify what’s instinctively frightening to people, such as the fear of the dark, confined spaces, or unknown creatures. Incorporate these fears into your story to tap into the primal fears of your readers.
  10. Open with a bang: Grab the reader’s attention from the very first sentence. Open with a suspenseful or shocking scene that immediately establishes the stakes and sets the tone for the story.
  11. Strong ending: A horror story is only as good as its ending. Make sure your ending delivers a satisfying resolution while still leaving room for lingering fears. Strive for a strong impact that will stay with the reader long after they finish the story.
  12. Take risks: Don’t be afraid to take risks in your storytelling. Experiment with different writing techniques, explore unconventional ideas, and push the boundaries of what is considered scary.

By following these 12 steps, you will be well on your way to crafting a truly terrifying horror story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Start with a fear factor

When it comes to writing a horror story, it’s important to start with a strong fear factor that will grab the reader’s attention right from the beginning. This can be done by focusing on a particular fear or phobia that is affecting the main character or by exploring larger societal themes that tap into the reader’s deepest fears.

One effective way to start a horror story is by opening with a tense and scary scene. This could involve introducing supernatural entities or monsters right away, or it could be a more subtle approach where the reader slowly begins to sense something is not quite right. No matter how you choose to start your story, it’s important to set the tone early on and create a sense of unease that will keep the reader hooked.

When crafting your horror story, it’s also important to avoid relying too heavily on jump scares or gore. While these can be good for a quick scare, they don’t have the same long-lasting effect as building tension and creating a sense of dread. Instead, focus on tapping into the reader’s instinctive fears and emotions. What are the things that truly scare them? Use those fears as the foundation for your story.

A great horror story will also have well-developed characters that the reader can connect with and root for. It’s important to make your characters relatable and likeable, so that the reader will care about what happens to them. This will make the scares and tensions they experience throughout the story even more affecting.

Learning from other genres can also help you find unique ways to create fear in your story. For example, psychological horror can be just as scary, if not scarier, than more traditional horror. By exploring the depths of the human mind and the fears and anxieties that lurk within, you can craft a story that leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

In conclusion, when starting a horror story, it’s important to tap into the reader’s fears and emotions right from the beginning. Set the tone with a strong fear factor, explore societal or supernatural themes, and create well-developed characters that the reader will care about. By following these steps, you’ll be on your way to crafting a truly scary and effective horror story.

Instinctive fears

One of the most effective ways to play on instinctive fears is to avoid monsters or supernatural entities and instead focus on tensions that are rooted in reality. For example, you can explore societal fears, tensions between characters, or emotional themes that we can all relate to. By doing so, you can create a story that will resonate with the reader on a deeper level.

But how do you start building a foundation for your horror story? Well, one key factor is the tone. The tone of a horror story sets the atmosphere and creates the suspense that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. You want to create a tense and eerie environment that makes the reader feel uneasy.

A strong starting point is to tap into common fears that many people share. Fear of the dark, fear of being alone, fear of the unknown – these are just a few examples of instinctive fears that can be a great starting point for your story. By using these common fears, you can create an immediate emotional connection with the reader and heighten their sense of fear and apprehension.

Another important step is to learn from other horror stories. Take note of what’s been done before and study the elements that make certain stories scary and affecting. Look at the techniques and devices that other writers have used to elicit fear in their audience, and use them as inspiration for your own work.

When it comes to crafting a scary story, the idea is not just to create a list of scary things, but to build tension and fear throughout the narrative. This means creating a well-developed plot with strong characters that readers can invest in and care about. The more invested the reader is in the story and its characters, the more emotionally affected they will be by the scares.

So, whether you’re writing a horror story for adults or children, the key is to tap into instinctive fears that we all have. By focusing on tensions, fears, and themes that are relatable, you can create a story that will leave a lasting impact on your readers. And remember, the supernatural may be frightening, but the most effective horror stories are the ones that hit close to home.

Monsters and supernatural entities

When it comes to horror stories, monsters and supernatural entities are key sources of fear and tension. Just like with any good horror story, how you craft these entities and use them in your narrative is what will make your story truly terrifying.

Scottish folklore is a great source for finding inspiration for monsters and supernatural entities. With their rich history of myths and legends, you can easily start with a list of creatures like the Loch Ness Monster or the Banshee.

When creating these entities, it’s important to consider their societal and emotional impact. What fears do they tap into? How do they affect the characters and the world they live in? Understanding the underlying themes and fears that these creatures represent will give your story a strong foundation.

One way to really make these monsters and supernatural entities scary is by avoiding direct descriptions. Instead, focus on the effects they have on the characters and the atmosphere they create. By leaving certain things to the reader’s imagination, you can create a much more intense and instinctive sense of fear.

Another effective technique is to use children as a factor in your story. The idea of innocent beings facing these terrifying entities adds another layer of fear and tension. Children are often seen as pure and untainted, so the contrast between their vulnerability and the supernatural horrors they encounter can be truly terrifying.

When it comes to writing about monsters and supernatural entities, it’s important to know your genre. Different genres have different tones and expectations, so be sure to research and understand what makes a horror story truly effective.

Overall, the key to creating a scary story is to tap into common and primal fears. Whether it’s the fear of the unknown, the fear of death, or the fear of losing loved ones, finding ways to evoke these deep-seated fears through monsters and supernatural entities will make your story truly memorable.

Societal tensions

In horror stories, societal tensions can be an effective theme to explore. When writing a horror story, it is important to avoid common tropes and clichés to create a unique and engaging narrative. One way to do this is by incorporating societal tensions.

Societal tensions are the underlying conflicts and issues within a society that can be explored in a horror story. They can include topics like race, gender, class, and politics. By addressing these themes, a writer can not only create a scary story, but also make a strong social commentary.

When using societal tensions in your horror story, it is important to be mindful of the emotional impact it may have on your readers. Some topics can be triggering or upsetting, particularly if they directly affect the reader’s personal experiences. It’s important to find the right balance between exploring these themes and creating a story that will genuinely scare your audience.

One way to start crafting a horror story with societal tensions is by finding the fears and anxieties that are instinctive to human nature. What’s something that makes you feel scared or uncomfortable? Incorporate that into your story. Open up a discussion about the fears and anxieties that society as a whole may have.

Children’s stories, in particular, can be a good starting point to explore societal tensions. By addressing these themes in a child-friendly manner, you can start to instill important values and a strong foundation for critically thinking about societal issues in young readers.

Here are 12 steps to effectively incorporate societal tensions in your horror story:

  1. Identify the societal tensions you want to explore.
  2. Research and gather information about these tensions from reliable sources.
  3. Create strong and relatable characters that will navigate these tensions.
  4. Build a solid foundation for your story by establishing the setting and tone.
  5. Introduce the reader to the fears and anxieties that will drive the story.
  6. Develop a plot that effectively incorporates the societal tensions.
  7. Use supernatural entities or monsters as a metaphor for these tensions.
  8. Take the reader on an emotional journey through the protagonist’s experiences.
  9. Build suspense and tension through your writing.
  10. Address the societal tensions head-on, but also leave room for interpretation and discussion.
  11. Revise and edit your draft to ensure a cohesive and impactful story.
  12. Share your story with others and gather feedback to improve your craft.

By following these steps, you can effectively incorporate societal tensions into your horror story and create a unique and engaging narrative that will leave a lasting impact on your readers.

What’s scary tense affecting or emotional – but not horror

When it comes to writing a scary story, the horror genre may be the first that comes to mind. However, there are other genres that can create effective and emotional stories without relying on supernatural entities or monsters.

One such genre is the thriller, which is known for its tense and suspenseful tone. Thrillers often explore themes of fear and tension, and rely on strong character development and a crafty plot to keep the reader engaged. In these stories, the fear factor comes from the anticipation and unknown, rather than explicit horror elements.

Another genre that can elicit strong emotions is the drama. Dramas often dive deep into societal or personal issues and explore themes that make the reader reflect on their own lives. By focusing on character development and the emotional journey of the protagonist, a writer can create a story that is affecting and thought-provoking.

Some scary stories are found within the realm of science fiction. These stories often tap into our instincts and explore fears about the unknown and the potential consequences of advancements in technology or society. By creating a world that feels both familiar and unsettling, a writer can craft a story that is both emotional and thought-provoking.

For those who want to write a scary story without delving into the horror genre, it’s important to start with a strong foundation. Know your audience and what scares them, and build tension through the story. Focus on creating a particular atmosphere, and use the power of suggestion to allow the reader’s imagination to fill in the gaps. The idea is to create a story that is scary in a more subtle and instinctive way.

When writing a scary story that is not horror, there are some steps to take to avoid common pitfalls. Instead of relying on supernatural entities or monsters, focus on the fears and anxieties that are common to humanity. By tapping into these universal themes, a writer can create a story that resonates with readers on a deep emotional level.

So, if you want to write a story that is scary, tense, affecting, and emotional – but not horror – explore genres like thriller, drama, or science fiction. By learning from these genres, you’ll be able to find your own unique style and create stories that give readers a thrilling experience without relying on traditional horror elements.

Craft Your Tone

Craft Your Tone

When it comes to writing a horror story, crafting the right tone is crucial. The tone sets the foundation for your story and influences how the reader will feel while reading it. It can make or break the overall atmosphere, so it’s important to get it right.

Here are some steps to help you craft the perfect tone for your horror story:

  1. Know your themes and what’s scary: Before you start writing, make a list of your fears and what you find scary. This will be your source of inspiration and will help you create a story that truly resonates with you.
  2. Take inspiration from common fears: While everyone has their own specific fears, there are some that are universally effective. Look into common fears like the fear of the dark, supernatural entities, or creepy children. These can be great starting points for building tension and creating an eerie atmosphere.
  3. Learn from other horror genres: Horror is a vast genre with many sub-genres, like psychological horror or supernatural horror. Explore different genres and see what makes them effective. Take notes on how they create tension, develop characters, and evoke fear.
  4. Start with the right tone: When writing your first draft, allow yourself to be open to different tones. Experiment and see what works best for your story. Do you want a fast-paced, action-packed horror story? Or do you want something slow-burn and atmospheric? Let your instincts guide you.
  5. Avoid common pitfalls: It’s easy to fall into clichés and tropes when writing horror. Try to avoid overusing jump scares, relying too heavily on gore, or making the story predictable. Instead, focus on creating emotional and psychological fear, which can be much more effective.
  6. Build tension: Tension is a key factor in horror stories. Gradually increase the tension throughout the story to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Utilize suspense, foreshadowing, and unexpected twists to keep the reader engaged and anxious.
  7. Find your writer’s voice: Horror stories thrive on the unique voices of their writers. Explore different narrative perspectives, experiment with different styles of writing, and find what feels most comfortable for you. Your writer’s voice will be a vital part of creating a memorable horror story.

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to crafting a truly terrifying and unforgettable horror story. Just remember to know your fears, understand what makes a story scary, and always stay true to your own unique voice.


If you want to write a good horror story, you’ll need to know what makes it scary and effective. There are many sources you can draw inspiration from, including Scottish folklore, societal fears, and supernatural entities.

One strong source to consider is not just fears themselves, but the emotions and tensions that they can create. Tapping into common fears like the fear of the dark or the fear of the unknown can be a great foundation for a scary story. You can also explore themes that are particularly affecting or instigate instinctive fears, such as the fear of losing a loved one or the fear of being trapped.

When crafting your horror story, it’s important to start with a strong character that the reader can relate to. By understanding their fears and vulnerabilities, you can create a story that will deeply resonate with the audience. Additionally, the use of monsters and supernatural entities can add an extra layer of terror to your narrative.

Learning from other great horror stories and genres can also be a good source of inspiration. By studying the craft of skilled horror writers, you can understand the techniques they use to create tension, build suspense, and evoke fear in their readers. Children’s stories can be particularly useful as they often rely on simple but effective storytelling to engage young readers.

It’s important to avoid clichés and predictable plot twists when developing your horror story. Try to think outside the box and come up with unique and unexpected ideas that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Experiment with different tones and writing styles to find the one that best suits your story.

Here’s a list of 12 sources that can help you in your quest to write a terrifying horror story:

  • Scottish folklore
  • Societal fears
  • Supernatural entities
  • Common fears
  • Emotions and tensions
  • Strong characters
  • Monsters and creatures
  • Children’s stories
  • Other horror stories
  • Genre exploration
  • Unique ideas
  • Different tones and styles

By incorporating these sources and following the steps outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to crafting a truly terrifying horror story that will leave your readers wanting more.

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