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9 Tips for Writing Bite-Sized Horror
Cover Story from Writer's Digest
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Latest issue of Writer’s Digest waiting in the mail & it covers all things horror writing-related. Just in time for their Early-Bird submission to the Short Shorty Story Contest. Did I mention I’m entering? Here are 9 tips for writing scary microfiction: 🧵 ahead…
Tip #1: Make sure the story fits the word count Too often we write an idea telling how we would scare a reader (if we had more words at our disposal) when we should be showing the reader the actual scare.
Tip #2: Focus on the moment where things shift Keeping it short means don’t start before the thing happens but right smack dab in the middle of when it happens. That Stephen King moment when you’re terrified? Start your terror there.
Tip #3: Create atmosphere by setting Every word counts in a short story. This is no time to wax poetic on your surroundings. Unless it will truly serve to add to the scare factor without overshadowing the plot or characters.
Tip #4: Lean into dark imagery and your readers’ collective imaginaton Sometimes less is more. Let your reader infer what you mean about your main character feeling like someone in the forest is staring at them. Leave some of it on the cutting room floor.
Tip #5: Think about what scared or unsettles you and pinpoint why it has that effect The “experts” will say if you don’t know what to write, or where to start, write what you know. What scares you? Truly terrifies you? Write that. If you dare…
Tip #6: Read horror fiction of various lengths This is probably the biggest & in the case of short fiction, easiest, tip to follow. Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery has her works accessible online for our reading pleasure. Take a few minutes to learn how it's done & do it yourself.
Tip #7: Read horror poetry Yep, poetry. Why? Well, there’s a raven somewhere that’s wishing you would. A short piece should have some sense of rhythm to it. Doesn’t mean it has to rhyme but every word, like that in a poem, needs to count.
Tip #8: Draw ideas from all around you I’m sure you’ve been out late at night and your imagination went wild about a pair of lights that could’ve been eyes, staring and waiting to come and get ya!
Tip #9: Play with tropes and archetypes to subvert the readers' expectations Take the normal and flip it so it’s very not normal. The most common of these is the demented clown who terrorizes a community of children. What makes you smile and figure out how to make it scare you?