Recipe for Writing a Great Horror Novel

We have a special guest today! Joel M. Andre, author of The Black Chronicles: Cry of the Fallen, is here to talk about writing horror novels(his specialty!). You can visit his website at


Recipe for Writing a Great Horror Novel by Joel M. Andre

To begin this process, I’m going to be honest. I’m not Stephen King or Anne Rice. I’m not a Master of Horror, but I know what I like to read. That is the direction I am going with this post.

When I begin writing a Horror Novel, I take a look at the bigger picture. What do I want my readers to get from the book I write, and what will be expected from the tale? Those are important questions to help you determine the direction you will take your story. With this information in hand, you are ready to attack the story.

Always Know What Your Killer/Monster Will Be

It can be fun having your readers guess the identity of your killer, or fear about what exactly the monster you are unleashing really is. In fact, this can help to build a level of suspense in your book.

When you read some novels, you find that the “entity” changes way too much. In some cases it begins as a killer clown that turns out to be an alien spider. In Horror, this is your most important character, so deliver the character as brilliantly as possible. Oh, and for the record, I love It.

Suspense over Violence

Violence can increase the level of fear in a story. There is something eerie about watching a person being stabbed to death for instance. However, the new “Torture Porn” genre isn’t anything more than senseless gore. If you compare the film Saw to The Haunting (the black and white version, not the remake) you can see what I mean.

The Haunting never allowed for a murder to take place on screen. It took you just to the edge, and allowed your imagination to work on what happened. This was a movie that had you feel what was on screen, and never demanded you saw the violence. Saw on the other hand delivered graphic gore.

Readers want the pages to grip them, and leave them in suspense.

Description Is Vital

I’ve been hounded in the past for giving too much detail on scenery, but it is important. Your reader should be able to enter the image in your mind. The landscape and descriptions of people are vital to the story. Make people care about your characters, even the ones you are going to kill. People should feel some emotion at the point that a character dies.

Never Leave Too Much Open

In the Horror Genre, we want to leave a book open for the next one in a series. When your reader ends your book, they should feel like they got a complete story. In a series, you are able to continue the tale but each book should be like a separate installment.

If you look at, The Black Chronicles: Cry of the Fallen, you will get a full story, but the ending will lead the readers into the next book. There aren’t any loose ends that prevent the reader from getting the entire story, if they don’t want to read on. That is vital for any tale.

Finally, know where you need to end your book as well. Story content is more important than word count. While some people might freak if you’re a few hundred words shy of 60,000 – 80,000, don’t worry about it. It is better to get to the point, without boring the reader. We cut 8,000 words from the new book in an effort to make it flow smooth, and give the reader the best tale we could.

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