Guest Post & Giveaway from Tabitha Short


15765423The Formula for a Horror Story

For many, the purpose of reading is to be entertained. In such, each genre has its own way of entertaining. Young adult fiction teaches lessons in love and life while telling likely stories that create a combination of happiness, sadness, and adventure. Erotica sets out to stimulate sexual desires by telling of fantasies. Horror seeks to leave an individual feeling unsettled, scared, and even squeamish. 

To create horror, one must think about creating uneasiness and fear inside of people. What was your last nightmare about? That’s a good place to start. Analyze and dissect what specifically created the feelings of uneasiness and fear. It could be a number of things. For example, a terrifying chase or the presence of an evil entity. Failing to protect one’s family, especially children, would create an unsavory feeling. Another good example is witnessing or being the victim of an atrocity, such as a murder or a brutal torture. It can also be something psychological as opposed to physical.

The important thing is to go for the ‘wow’ factor. When someone reads the story, you want their jaw to drop because they can’t believe what they’ve just read. In The Corpses of Old Farm Hill Road: The Arrogant Man, I did this by creating a character that everyone will despise. He is egotistical and cares only for himself. He treats others like they are crap on the bottom of his shoe. Very early in the story the reader learns to hate him so later when he’s at the mercy of the serial killing women, the reader is torn. Do they want him to escape and get out alive? Or do they want him to be tortured and die? This creates an inner turmoil in the reader and leaves them unsettled. These are the feelings that a horror story sets out to create and leave behind.

So what’s the formula for a good horror story? I use the following:


  1. Start with the ordinary.
    1. In my horror short The Please DO Feed the Animals ZOO, I started with an ordinary father-son relationship and their ordinary outing.
  2. Make it unordinary.
    1. Their outing becomes disturbing when the zoo they decide to go to becomes alarmingly real.
  3. Create a problem.
    1. They’re trapped in a zoo filled with ferocious man-eating animals. How will they escape them?
  4. Don’t forget the imagery.
    1. It’s a horror story, get dirty. Go into detail with the gory scenes.
  5. End with a bang.
    1. The crucial part of a horror story is the ending. Your reader has to walk away feeling grossed out, sick and/or terrified. They have to feel like they might possibly find themselves in the same predicaments of your characters.


What is your formula for a horror story?


Happy Halloween!


You can find The Please DO Feed the Animals ZOO and The Corpses of Old Farm Hill Road: The Arrogant Man as well as other horror short stories on or your favorite online eBook retail store.

Other Books by Tabitha Short: Her Sister’s Murderer  and Arena Games: Legend of Petrova (Volume 1) (You can find more on Amazon, Goodreads, etc)


Giveaway of The Please DO Feed the Animals Zoo and The Corpses of Old Farm Hill Road: The Arrogant Man

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted on October 23, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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