I’ve actually been writing horror stories for several years. Some of them good and some of them not so good. I never really knew what distinguished one from the other, but then I never really cared overly much since my horror stories were just a hobby.
But lately I’ve been thinking I should do some good horror stories in honor of the upcoming Halloween. So I wrote one…it sucked. Not in description or story, but there was just something lacking. That got me wondering what separates good horror from bad.
I decided to have some fun researching this so in the last few days I’ve read a whole lot of short horror stories. Some of them have been great and some not. They’ve ranged from creepy as hell suspense to upfront, in-your-face slashers and neither of them were categorically better than the others. So what is it? Word-choice? Length? Scenery?
Iv’e come to the conclusion that the difference between a good horror story and a bad one has two factors: How well it sucks you in and how long it stays with you.
A good horror will pull you in as fast as the first scene and it stays with you. It stays with you for hours, days, maybe even months or years after. How many of us remember reading “The Lottery” in school or, my personal childhood favorite, “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
Good horror sinks into your mind and stays there. That’s what separates it.
To that end, I’ve been writing a bunch of horror vignettes, and lesser scenes, trying to find that mind capturing core. I’ll post anything good I come up with.