Dear Stabby and Originality in Horror

GBM welcomed many new writers and one of them if Stabby Unicorn. She has now a Friday Weekly Column and invites you to write to her every week!

Dear Stabby, 

As a horror lover, I want to write a horror of my own. Do you have any advice for tropes to avoid or how to make my work stand out from everyone else?

Signed,
Fledgling Author

Dear Fledgling Author, 

Horror is amazing. So many tropes get repeated, it becomes challenging to find an original way to twist them. 

IT by Stephen King
IT by Stephen King

My first tidbit of advice would be to read a lot of horrors. Already do that? (I do!) Don’t be like Stephen King or Clive Barker or any of the other horror greats. Look inside yourself. What are YOUR fears? Make it personal, and it’s going to be all that more terrifying for your readers.

What About Creepshow?

As an example, one of the most terrifying horror scenes for me is from a Creepshow episode. The man fears roaches (as I do), so he builds a safety chamber. When he spots his first bug, he moves to this chamber, but it’s horror, so of course, the chamber fills with roaches. 

Creepshow — A Shudder Original Series
Creepshow — A Shudder Original Series

This is terrifying because the “what if” here—the very idea of protecting yourself from these nasty insects—becomes ineffective and invalid. What’s scarier than that? If you look hard enough, you can find the what-if to twist in any horror trope, especially if you make it personal. The worst-case scenario your mind comes up with is someone else’s nightmare.

Familiarize With Fears

If that doesn’t work for you, there are two other things you can do. First is the dreaded research. Familiarize yourself with what’s most frequently done and change directions. Take the unexpected path and weave a tale that keeps the reader guessing. Think of your favorite books, art, or movies. What makes them your favorite? Maybe there’s an answer there.

Haunted
Haunted

Write what you know. Make it personal. Change the direction of the story. But most of all, write it.

Until next time, stay creepy!
Stabby

Have a question for Dear Stabby? 
Send them to askstabby@gmail.com


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