How to Write a Horror Novel

Lone Thread Books
3 min readJan 25, 2021

Here’s the ironic thing about horror novels: They are actually fun to read and even more so to write. Like most other genres, good horror novels require the right mix and match of ingredients- in this case. Here’s a quick guide on how to write a horror novel.

Make it personal

Everyone is aware of that classic trick horror movies use to increase the tension and fear in the audience- “Based on true events”. You’ll be surprised to know that when it comes to writing a horror novel, most authors base the plot on a real life experience. The experience is not an encounter with a ghost or creepy monster; it is rather a moment in the author’s life that may have induced a lifelong fear. Horror works best when you are honest in your writing; your readers will get that much-needed sense of immersion and connect with your storytelling on a personal level.

To create a good plot for a horror novel, you must be able to tap into your inner fears down in a rough manuscript. Once you’ve got the setting and backstory is laid out, stitching your story together will be easy.

Give flesh and blood to your characters

Characters are a crucial element in horror novels. The way you construct your character can make the difference between a scary novel and a boring one. Unlike most other genres, characters in a horror novel are harder to develop because you need to make them more believable. Yes, the antagonist in your novel can be a little over-the-top, be it a crazy ghost, terrifying zombie or supernatural entity, but the leading character must be as fleshed out and human as possible.

Give your characters a reason to exist in the horrific situation they are thrown in. Even the antagonist must have a fleshed out purpose for the terror that is being caused. Readers won’t care much for the scares you put in unless they feel what your characters feel; once an empathic connection is established, the scares will start setting in.

Toy with your reader’s emotions

Even though you’re writing a horror novel, don’t make it entirely about horror. Keep your readers engrossed by mixing elements of humour, romance and action. Doing so helps your toy with the readers’ emotions; one minute they could be laughing at a joke cracked by your character and the next minute, totally freaked out due to an unsuspecting and horrific event.

Shock, dread and paranoia are the three emotions you have to master in creating while structuring your novel. You can choose to develop the emotion as part of your character’s personality or entwine it in the setting itself.

A slow and steady plot creates the best scare

For any genre to truly work its magic, the pacing of the plot must be just right. If you’ve read thriller novels, you will notice just how fast paced the plot is. But for horror novels, the plot must move at a slower pace; achieve this by intentionally elongating your chapters and elaborating on a scene by explaining little details. You will create a sense of tension and dread among your readers if you are able to slow down the pace.

Remember; before you even start writing, always do a good amount of research for your novel’s subject matter. Great authors are versatile in the genres of their books, so if you’ve mastered writing horror, learn how to write an adventure novel.

Once your final manuscript is complete, sending it to a reputed self-publishing agency is the best way to let your readers know something horrifying is coming their way.

I hope this article will be helpful to you. Follow Lone Thread Books to learn more about reading, writing, and publishing.

| By, Aswy Hanna Paul, Lone Thread Books. |