H is For Horror
Although my longer fiction is romantically inclined, my short fiction often dips into the horror category. It’s not something I plan, it just happens that way. Maybe one of these days I’ll try something longer in horror, but until then I’ll just share some of the tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Make your readers sweat immediately. People don’t pick up a horror novel for a casual read. Readers want the pulse rate to kick into high gear. Start with a bang.
Limit your point of view. Write your story from the viewpoint of the main characters and remain faithful to those points of view. Let readers experience everything through those characters’ eyes, memories and feelings.
Create strong, identifiable characters. Give them a goal and throw obstacle after obstacle at them. If you don’t care about your characters, the readers certainly won’t.
Create a strong atmosphere. Creating a definite sense of mood and place is always important, but take special care with your opening. Use all the senses to make the reader picture everything.
Make your world come alive. If your character is fleeing from some flesh eating zombie, you must imagine the terrified thoughts racing through his or her mind – the sounds, muted by terror, even the way the air smells and tastes.
Let your characters do the doubting. Their disbelief, especially in the face of overwhelming evidence, makes us accept the whole premise you’ve come up with. Letting your characters disbelieve, question, doubt, every incredible thing that happens puts readers on the side of the supernatural – just where you want them.
Try to be original. The more different you make your story, the more it will appeal to publishers and readers.
Try to pick a subject that scares you personally. The more emotional power you pack into your story, the more readers will become terrified with you. They will feel your horror as they read each terrifying word, and become scared with you.