Tips Sharing: How to write Horror

Questions, skill improvement, and respectful critique involving game writing.
Post Reply
Message
Author
User avatar
Meinos Kaen
Regular
Posts: 106
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:01 pm
Skype: therealmeinoskaen
Location: Somewhere in Italy...
Contact:

Tips Sharing: How to write Horror

#1 Post by Meinos Kaen » Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:21 pm

So, as we all know, there are different genres a story can fall under and each one wants a different pacing, writing style, kind of narration, hell, even punctuation. I thought it would be a good idea to make a general topic where to share tips.

This topic's genre of choosing: Horror.

I must say that I've always found two genres lacking in quantity, mostly because of the difficulty in writing. One of those is Horror. It's a genre that comes out much more easily when you want to make a movie than a book, because as Ryan Sohmer eloquently puts it...

Image

Yeah. Comes easier with images, but it's not impossible as proven by people as Sir Poe and Sir Lovecraft. So, have you ever tried horror? What did you find worked more in making a chilling story?

Tip from: Meinos

Here's my two cents. I don't know if it's a one-trick pony or not but I found that it worked like magic, at least on me. I found this in a Love Hina fanfiction. Yes, a horror Love Hina. With scenes that chilled me to the bone. This one in particular.
"Kitsune… Shinobu how could you…?"

"How could I what?" Shinobu wailed. "What did I-"

"You killed her!"

Shinobu's eyes went wide. "No!" she breathed. "No, I would never do that!"

"Stay back, I said!" Motoko growled, retreating a few more steps as Shinobu held out her arms and tried to embrace her. "I'm so blind – I'm so blind! How could I have missed it – you waxed the floor! You broke Naru's things! Kitsune was right – you were always right there!"

"No, I-"

"Stay back!"

Motoko took another step, stumbling over the shovel Shinobu had been using and falling flat on her rear. Holding her blade forward, she stared up with open fear at the girl in front of her.

"You killed her," she whispered, "you killed her and you buried her right here!"

Shinobu tilted her head to the side. "No," she said emphatically, "I buried her in the side yard."

Motoko's hand landed on the soft, earthy mound Shinobu had been covering when she arrived… and for a moment, her mind did not register what the younger girl had said. "You… what?"

Walking forward, Shinobu earnestly said, "I buried her in the side yard. The dirt's a lot softer there, since I've been working on the vegetable patch. It's coming along nicely, by the way – we should have some really nice pumpkins for Halloween."

"Then what-" Motoko began, scooting back as Shinobu broke into a wide, sunny grin.

"Back here I was covering the ten foot sinkhole I found when I was gardening the other day."

Motoko tried to shift her weight – to throw herself forward as a sharp crack sounded under her… but she was not fast enough, and the makeshift cover of sticks and dirt covering the sinkhole gave way, sending her down into its narrow confines with a scream of terror.

She landed hard on her side, wincing as the breath exploded from her lungs. Sword, she thought quickly, fighting the pain as she groped around for her blade. Have to get out of here before -

Her breath caught in her throat as dirt rained down on her silky black hair.

"I'm sorry about this, sempai, I really am," Shinobu apologized, driving the shovel again into the side of the sinkhole and raining more dirt down on the other girl. "I'll make sure your sister gets your sword… I know how much it meant to you. Bye now!"

Motoko could only watch in horror as Shinobu bent down and began working at the sides of the sinkhole, her intentions clear as more and more moist earth began to rain down.

"No," the swordswoman gasped. "NO!"

Desperately, she scrambled at the sides… but the earth was too loose, and she only succeeded in filling the hole more.

No, no, no, NO, NO,NOOOOO!

Shinobu worked industriously, shoveling dirt into the hole as the girl below her began to scream for help. After several minutes, she placed the hose at he mouth of the hole, turning it on full blast and watching in satisfaction as the hole quickly began to fill with dirt and water.

She hummed as she resumed her shoveling, and when Motoko's screams finally dwindled away with a wretched, muddy gurgle, Shinobu was thankful for the silence.

Smiling to herself, she continued to work.
So, I guess the tip is: write a character act perfectly normal, maybe cheerfully, while it's doing something utterly, completely wrong and sick.

HigurashiKira
Miko-Class Veteran
Posts: 832
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 9:10 pm
Contact:

Re: Tips Sharing: How to write Horror

#2 Post by HigurashiKira » Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:47 pm

That was disturbing (considering that I know the character) but not enough to say it's scary. Perhaps one of the best things to do in horror and similar things is to be descriptive enough to have a person imagine the image, but just vauge enough to let their minds wander a bit. That is the most useful tool for a horror writer: the reader's mind. Just to show...whcih has more effect:
The beast lunged forward and pierced the boy, wrapping around him and draining him. He thewn screamed in pain.
or
The beast's pulsating tentacle lunged forward and buried itself in the boy's chect. With it's prey trapped, the disfigured monster reeled him in and pierced his flesh with it's fangs. The boy let out a cry of pain as his blood began to be sucked out from his body
I have moved to a new account. Please contact me here from now on. T/Y~

User avatar
Taleweaver
Writing Maniac
Posts: 3428
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 8:51 am
Completed: Metropolitan Blues, The Loyal Kinsman, Daemonophilia, The Dreaming, The Thirteenth Year, Adrift, Bionic Heart 2, Secrets of the Wolf, The Photographer
Projects: The Pilgrim's Path, Elspeth's Garden, Secret Adventure Game!
Organization: Tall Tales Productions
Location: Germany
Contact:

Re: Tips Sharing: How to write Horror

#3 Post by Taleweaver » Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:07 am

Also, horror works really well if you take a strictly personal narrative position and tell everything through the eyes of the "victim" - the one who gets to experience the horror:
Rodriguez felt cold sweat running down his forehead and stinging his eyes. Every breath he took hurt in his lungs; he was at his limit. Running had ceased to be an option.

Taking all of his remaining courage, Rodriguez slowly turned and squinted his eyes to somehow see through the mist that engulfed him. It was no use... he could only be sure of the ten feet directly around him, anything beyond that... He shuddered at the thought that it could be almost right behind him, and he would only see a nondescript shadow, a shadow like any inside this mist. And jumping at any shadow wouldn't help him, that much his mind was still able tell him...

But what was that sound?!

Rodriguez' felt his hands clench into fists and his nails digging into his palms, almost involuntarily. No mistake - there had been a sound, just now, very close to him, but not where he had been expecting it... more to the left. He adjusted his position to prepare himself against an attack from that direction, still hoping, somehow, that it would follow the same behavior it had followed when killing Manuel and Grace: favoring an attack from behind, so that he would be somehow safer facing that... thing.

That moment, the sound was back. Behind him.

Rodriguez twirled around with a shout, ready to fight back whatever was coming for him... but the mist was all he could see. The thing was still more than ten feet away from him. Damn. He had hoped that if he got a good look at it, it would have somehow increased his chances of surviving whatever lurked there...

Another sound. Again, behind Rodriguez.

That was the moment when he realized the truth, and he felt his heart stop at that truth:

There were two of them.
Scriptwriter and producer of Metropolitan Blues
Creator of The Loyal Kinsman
Scriptwriter and director of Daemonophilia
Scriptwriter and director of The Dreaming
Scriptwriter of Zenith Chronicles
Scriptwriter and director of The Thirteenth Year
Scriptwriter and director of Romance is Dead
Scriptwriter and producer of Adrift
More about me in my blog
"Adrift - Like Ever17, but without the Deus Ex Machina" - HigurashiKira

User avatar
yukipon
Regular
Posts: 31
Joined: Tue May 10, 2011 7:50 am
Organization: SJP
Location: Somewhere Over the Skittles Factory.
Contact:

Re: Tips Sharing: How to write Horror

#4 Post by yukipon » Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:56 pm

Here's a tip that writers should check once finished writing that horror story:

Tip: Make sure your writing doesn't sound unintentionally funny.
"How do you know my name? Damn, this can only mean one of two things: Either we have met, and you are telling the truth, and I just can't remember it, or you are a spy." ~Setou Kenji (Katawa Shoujo)
Status: Thinking. Planning. And playing Phantasy Star Online 2 JP.

User avatar
Meinos Kaen
Regular
Posts: 106
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:01 pm
Skype: therealmeinoskaen
Location: Somewhere in Italy...
Contact:

Re: Tips Sharing: How to write Horror

#5 Post by Meinos Kaen » Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:37 pm

yukipon wrote:Here's a tip that writers should check once finished writing that horror story:

Tip: Make sure your writing doesn't sound unintentionally funny.
Huh? What do you mean by that?

User avatar
yukipon
Regular
Posts: 31
Joined: Tue May 10, 2011 7:50 am
Organization: SJP
Location: Somewhere Over the Skittles Factory.
Contact:

Re: Tips Sharing: How to write Horror

#6 Post by yukipon » Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:40 pm

I didn't put up an example since there's more than one way to actually poorly write a horror story. But really, it could applied across any genre.

Things like inappropriate word choices for describing a scene, unintended allusions to sexual intercourse, metaphors that don't really make sense, "corny" dialogue, and many others.

It's pretty easy to spot: If you think a sentence could be misinterpreted inappropriately or that it doesn't really convey your intentions, chances are you probably need to rewrite it.

Here's a quick one I'll make up:
It was that sound; an incessant tap that thrust against its surface, the sound of a maddened madman who couldn't possibly be normal.

Once. Twice. Three. Four. Five. Six. Six times and more. The sound thrusted itself again and again with maddening fury, he couldn't take it anymore.
I was aiming to write about a lonely man and a nonstop tap from the walls. What do you think this actually conveys?
"How do you know my name? Damn, this can only mean one of two things: Either we have met, and you are telling the truth, and I just can't remember it, or you are a spy." ~Setou Kenji (Katawa Shoujo)
Status: Thinking. Planning. And playing Phantasy Star Online 2 JP.

User avatar
Meinos Kaen
Regular
Posts: 106
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 1:01 pm
Skype: therealmeinoskaen
Location: Somewhere in Italy...
Contact:

Re: Tips Sharing: How to write Horror

#7 Post by Meinos Kaen » Thu Jan 12, 2012 4:46 pm

yukipon wrote:I didn't put up an example since there's more than one way to actually poorly write a horror story. But really, it could applied across any genre.

Things like inappropriate word choices for describing a scene, unintended allusions to sexual intercourse, metaphors that don't really make sense, "corny" dialogue, and many others.

It's pretty easy to spot: If you think a sentence could be misinterpreted inappropriately or that it doesn't really convey your intentions, chances are you probably need to rewrite it.

Here's a quick one I'll make up:
It was that sound; an incessant tap that thrust against its surface, the sound of a maddened madman who couldn't possibly be normal.

Once. Twice. Three. Four. Five. Six. Six times and more. The sound thrusted itself again and again with maddening fury, he couldn't take it anymore.
I was aiming to write about a lonely man and a nonstop tap from the walls. What do you think this actually conveys?
... A lonely man 'tapping' the walls.

User avatar
cloudyssky
Veteran
Posts: 258
Joined: Mon May 17, 2010 2:09 pm
Completed: Alone
Projects: Many failed ones
Location: Massachusetts
Contact:

Re: Tips Sharing: How to write Horror

#8 Post by cloudyssky » Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:22 pm

My first VN was a short horror story. A couple of users commented how creeped out they felt. To me, the VN I made was kind of low quality, but still managed to do it's job. I kept my dialogue short, and simple. Nothing was very descriptive.

My current project is actually also a horror story. I agree that it is a difficult genre. Regarding VNs, I think it's key that the art and music be reflective of the mood. This sounds like a no-brainer, but I feel like it's very important. Although on the other hand sometimes a silent background can make the story a little more threatening because you're only left with the text, and your mind will automatically fill in the rest. I feel like when you over describe some things, it doesn't frighten the reader as much versus leaving a simple description which will let the reader fill in the blanks with the worst things that they can imagine.
Projects:
Alone- (Horror/Sci-Fi) Complete! Link
Demokratiya- (Adventure/Action) I'm kind of winging it with this one. Goal is 100,000 words. Yeah, it's gonna take a while.
{Last worked on Sept/28 : Word count (coding and all) ~4500}

User avatar
SusanTheCat
Miko-Class Veteran
Posts: 952
Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:30 am
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
Contact:

Re: Tips Sharing: How to write Horror

#9 Post by SusanTheCat » Fri Jan 13, 2012 6:19 pm

My first completed project was horror too. http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewto ... =16&t=9744 It was based on a NaNoWriMo Novel I wrote. My first novel was horror-ish too. (Gee... I wonder what it says about be that the NaNo novels I completed are all horror)

I don't think any of my novels turned out like what was in my head. I liked turning the one into a visual novel because then I could add visual and audio elements.

Susan
" It's not at all important to get it right the first time. It's vitally important to get it right the last time. "
— Andrew Hunt and David Thomas

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users