Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? VI

Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? VI

Getting Started – write your story now!

The best way I’ve found to write my stories is to write the scene I am envisioning most vividly in my head. It doesn’t matter if the scene is at the end of your story, in the middle, or at the beginning.

I almost never write a story in sequence. Instead I write the most intriguing, suspenseful, or original parts then connect them together. There is some reason that you want to write this story. Maybe it is a couple of lines of dialogue – start there! Maybe it is a description of some creature or setting – start there! Writing the good parts first will ensure you don’t have a bunch of uninteresting facts and set-up that slow down your stories.

After you get the best few scenes that tell the story, only put in the other pertinent information – just enough to move the story forward. Don’t tell us who a character is. We will learn who the character is through the story and his/her actions, dialogue and feelings.

It’s amazing how many times I have written only those most important scenes and realized, I didn’t need much else.

Leave out the boring details:

You should never have to tell the year a person was born or their age. That’s reserved for autobiographies. Most people can deduce a character’s general age by the things they are doing, experiencing, and by the setting.


If taking place in a dance club or at some hip gathering, the MC is probably in their 20’s.

In a corner pub, singing When Irish Eyes are Smiling, they are probably 50 or older.

If they own a home, they are at least in their 30’s, most likely 40’s up to 60’

Teenage Children? mid-forties.

Working in a menial retail job, 20’s – working as an office manager, lawyer or foreman on a construction job – late 30’s to 50’s.

Of course, you may want to write a story in the style of an autobiography, but many people might find this similar to schoolwork and be bored reading it. I would be cautious about using that style.

Likewise, the time/era of the setting can be delivered in a similar manner.

GPS on your character’s cell phone – 2000’s

No cell phones – before 1990’s

Big Hair – 1980’s

Going to a sock-hop – 1950’s

Use vehicles, songs, television shows, celebrity mentions, etc. to further explain your time period. If I am writing something set in early 1900s or pre-1900’s I will often use my Poe-voice, a gothic style of writing similar to that day and age.


“I leave out the parts that people skip.”
― Elmore Leonard

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
― Jack London


7 thoughts on “Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? VI

  1. Great advice which can apply to any genre. At least for me, I often start with whatever pops into my head (a narrative, a bit of dialogue) and then dance around that beginning until it’s a coherent piece. Well, until it has some coherency 😉

      • When I give myself time to write, yup, that’s how I do it. Time is too precious to spend agonizing over the beginning of a story when I have plenty of “middle” to get down 🙂

  2. I want to be a horror screenwriter…..yet I have been so bad at actually starting it. So many ideas yet so little action. I always decide to beef up or write articles or my website instead! Anyways…this advice is very solid! I can imagine it being very difficult to write things from the early 1900’s!

    • Just make sure you write all your ideas down, even the smallest ones-sometimes the stories wind up writing themselves 🙂 I actually read a lot of older horror, Machen, Bierce, Lovecraft, etc. so I find it hard to write in modern style, lol. Modern styles want 3rd person, only general character physical descriptions (I like to really describe my character’s looks which are promptly removed by editors of publications), basic scene settings (I like to fully describe the scene in detail sometimes), and I write dialogue like Dicken’s in ‘A Christmas Carol’ which I always have to self edit before I submit anything. 😀

  3. Great tips like always, Mike. I really like these posts and you have really shared some good strategies with everyone. Keep ’em coming, man!

  4. Pingback: Horror Fiction writer – articles and tips | parlor of horror

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