Writing horror/suspense narratives

Posted by Studentbox user
on 13/04/2017 at in  ATAR/WACE
Hello fellow WACE/ATAR students,

I was wondering if somebody would be able to give me some tips/ideas about writing horror and building suspense within a narrative/short story? This would be for the composing part within an English exam. Also, if anyone has written horror stories in the past for an English exam I would greatly appreciate it if you would send it so I could see a sample piece. Thanks :)


  • admin
    Studentbox User
    edited April 2017
    Hello Goliath, :)

    Writing Horror and Suspense Stories 

    Language techniques are very important in any form of creative writing.  These are some language conventions I feel may be helpful when writing horror or suspense. 

    1.Tone: When writing anything on horror or even suspense, I feel it is very important to set the tone of the narrative from the first sentence. In your sentences include strong and pervasive tone.

    2. Descriptive Word: For horror and suspense try to use many descriptive words to illustrate a certain mood, setting or even the feelings of the characters. The more description you provide, the more engaged the reader will become. Try to provide as much description of the scenario and especially the emotions of the characters as it will allow the readers to place themselves into the positions of the characters and relate to them. In horror or suspense, the description is most important. The suspense in the story can only be built through the language techniques.

    3. Try to use onomatopoeia to describe the sounds. This can be used to set the tone as well as make the reader more engaged. Some people like to listen or visualise things rather than actually read. The usage of this kind of language convention will provide the reader to imagine and understand the situation better. Feeling the sound would make the reader apprehensive and engaged and relatable. e.g. The dragon bellowed and shrieked in anger. Personification is also very helpful as it can give inanimate object life. For example- the three leaves waved in the wind.

    4. Metaphors and similes can be used to make comparisons between two things. Don't get confused with the meanings between a metaphor and a simile. Similes are used to compare two things and in metaphors, one object through comparison becomes another object. You can find many examples of simile and metaphor online. These two language conventions can add to the understanding of the situation. For example, say you are describing a gloomy place where the main character is, compare the setting to another place that might be similar. This would make the reader visualise the setting better. 

    5. Rhythm is another language convention which is important. Try to include rhyme in what you are writing as it will make the story flow well and engage the reader. Try to use assonance and alliteration if possible. This may help to form a rhythm. Rhythm can be quite hard to incorporate in a story but it can make the story more interesting.

    6. The symbolism of certain things in the narrative can add to the reader's understanding. Symbolism is using an object or a word to represent an abstract idea. An action, person, place, word, or object can all have a symbolic meaning. You can suggest a certain mood or emotion, to hint at it, rather than just blatantly saying it. Include symbolism for certain aspects of the story, for example: "The shadows of the tall, dark trees were creeping closer to the child". In this sentence, there is description and tone that supports the symbolism and it makes it more interesting to read. When the reader is reading they can analyse these certain aspects in the story to create meaning and understand the importance of the objects. Symbolism depends on the context of the story. It helps to create meaning and emotion in the stories. 

    Imagery is another one that is extremely important when writing horror. As I have mentioned earlier some people like to visualise as they can understand something better that that way so I suggest you include imagery in your sentences. Imagery can visually describe a certain setting, appearance, emotions and etc. e.g. Algae lie still and bloated on the top. 

    I think you might be familiar with the language techniques above. I just added some examples so I could show you how helpful they can be when writing. 

    Tips for Writing Horror and Suspense

    These are some common tips that may be helpful to you when writing about horror or suspense stories. 

    - This is the most common tip anyone would give you. Read more of this genre. The more you read the better you will become. You may also get ideas as to how you would want to write your story.
    - I believe you might be writing a short story on suspense or horror so here are some short stories you may like to read: 

    There are many others online you might like to read.

    - When writing horror stories, try to avoid cliche as it can make the story boring and not interesting. Think of unique ideas. This might be a little difficult but rather than making it a stereotypical stories like the woman being the vulnerable and the victim, make sure to construct your characters with more depth. By depth I mean they should have layers, their past should be unique and they should be different from everyone. Readers often seek for something new. Ask yourself as a reader what kind of suspense stories would I like to read? Rather than making the character a normal murder, give the person special characteristics, for example, he or she may have mental disorders. This would engage the reader.

    - Build suspense in the story. Don't make the story too predictable. Build suspense with tone and descriptive words. Don't let the reader expect what you might be writing about. Build up the suspense and turn the story into something unexpected.

    This is a good website:

    - Make sure to use the narrative convention properly like: setting, plot, characters, climax and etc. 
    - Try to write sample suspense or horror stories. Give yourself a prompt and write a practice story under an hour or the time given during exam. The more you practice the better you will get.
    - Also, make sure to read more horror stories and try to get inspiration from it. 
    -If possible try to analyse the horror stories I have just send you. Analyse by looking at the language techniques. Look for symbolism and ask yourself what could that mean, look for imagery, similes and etc. Also, identify how the author has built suspense in the story.
    - If you search language technique for English a bunch of them will come up so make sure to look for them.

    These are some of my ideas. I will write more on how to write horror or suspense stories. If you need any help, you can leave a message in the comment and I will try to get back to you soon. I will send you some more tips on how to improve and also links to other websites. You should also search about how you can write short stories. There are mamy pdf versions of sample short stories you should check out. For now, I hope these tips help you. Please leave a like if you think these are helpful.
    :)  :)

    I have also added a sample essay in Studentbox if you would like you are welcome to check it out. Please give it a like and comment on it. :)  :) :) 

    Bye. :) 

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