Horror, it’s a tough genre to write in, and as every good horror writer knows, it takes time to create fear. Knowing that it’s going to be tough is what makes the short story an art form. When putting your next novel together you might get away with a little slog every now and then; you might even get to flesh out a little background for your characters, maybe even explain a relationship or two, but when putting together your short story, your going to need to accept a new set of problems for writing in the horror genre.
1. Building up the Backgrounds: You’re wanting to give the characters solid pasts. They may be needy, lonely, or just scared of everything, but you won’t have the pages to flesh them out fully. A long standing phobia is okay, as is anything that can be brought out quickly, but you may find yourself with a plot driven by action more than the characters themselves. Backgrounds are what makes a character who they are, so whatever you choose, make sure it fits into the action and keep every line relevant to reader.
2. Finding One Setting: There are no hard and fast rules to writing, at least outside of grammar, but finding the appropriate setting for your horror short story is more important than ever. Odds are, your characters won’t be changing venues too often so know that you’ll want to pick wisely. You’ll need a setting that adds to your story, something that by it’s own nature is creepy or unnerving, not something that takes up plot to make it worthy of your characters. The exception is when the story is about the setting, and your plot is the place.
3. Fear in a Pinch: You want to let your tension build up, but readers wanting a quick fix of terror don’t have all night to wait for it. They’re ready to get reading and they expect a lot out of their horror writers. So let the plot move and re read number one above.
4. Write Beyond Simple: Writing a short story, in any genre, is all about keeping it simple so the story moves well for the reader and to keep them pulled in, but It’s a great time to pull in symbolism and let the reader figure it out for themselves. You’ll want everything building your tension, and since you don’t have the word count to push ideas across, let every setting for the plot do the work for you. Writer’s should let every conversation push the story along and give readers plenty of credit with their ability to see into a larger world built into a small picture.
Fun might not be the word that most writers would use to describe their attempts at terror, but being scared is the fun part of reading horror. Above all, writing short stories is fun, and it’s a challenge, reading them should be the same only simple. Remember, when writing a short story, it’s the job of the writer to do the leg work for the reader.