Daily Writer

By Alicia Sekhri

How to Write a Horror Movie

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Alicia Sekhri
Alicia Sekhri
Horror has always been the movie genre I was the most attracted to.
When I dove into screenwriting (which was like two months ago), I wanted to write a horror movie.
And it’s much, MUCH harder than it looks.
First, I can’t write a page at night without scaring myself and having nightmares (no, I’m not that talented - probably just a coward).
Second, whenever I want to write a horrific scene, my mind just goes, “Geez! How could you think of that, you psycho??”
I guess it’s hard to write horror scenes when you’re not a psychopath. Most of us need some guidance - and that’s what you’ll find in this issue.

Let's Start with Wise Words...
While doing research on the topic, I came across some interesting quotes from horror authors and figured it would be a good idea to share them in order to help you understand the horror writing process.
“Part of what horror is, is taking risks and going somewhere that people think you’re not supposed to be able to go, in the name of expressing real-life fears.” ― Jordan Peele
Horror is not simply a literary genre. It is a reality. Those who read horror are closer to understanding its malevolent nature and the engrossing peril of its hold. Whereas those who don’t haven’t a clue until it is far too late to save themselves from the horror.” ― A.K. Kuykendall, The Possession
“A horror writer is one who is not only willing to look into the darkest of shadows…but to reach into them too.” ― Thomas Scopel, Twitch
“When Stephen King elaborated on his inspirations for his novel “Carrie” he draws from a time when he was a young man, and describes his impression when he came upon a statue of Christ on the cross, hanging there in misery, and he thought “If THAT guy ever came back, he probably wouldn’t be in a saving mood.”” ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
“So where do the ideas—the salable ideas—come from? They come from my nightmares. Not the night-time variety, as a rule, but the ones that hide just beyond the doorway that separates the conscious from the unconscious.” —Stephen King, The Horror Writer Market and the Ten Bears
Resources to Learn How to Write a Horror Screenplay
Articles & Free Resources
“In contemporary thrillers, the spectator knows just as little as the characters, and is immediately drawn into the subjective emotional word of the protagonists. As spectators, we indeed experience the world increasingly ‘inside out’ and have direct access to the drama of the neural mechanisms of emotion. We are taken on a neuronal rollercoaster that will eventually give us the story.”
Anatomy of a Scare: How to Write Horror: How to scare the audience, create empathetic characters, and pick your type. Are you more Black Swan or Slasher?
Books
If you’re really serious about writing a horror screenplay, here are two excellent books that I strongly recommend:
How To Write A Horror Movie, by Neal Bell. This book is pretty expensive, but you can find a free sample here. The sample itself is filled with great tips to get you started.
The Scream Writer’s Handbook: How to Write a Terrifying Screenplay in 10 Bloody Steps, by Thomas Fenton. You can get it on Amazon.
Must-Read Screenplays
Reading screenplays is the best way to assimilate the rules of the horror genre. Here are my favorite ones:
Learn how to craft a great horror story…
US (2019), by Jordan Peele
US (2019)
US (2019)
Learn how to create an awkward atmosphere…
Midsommar (2019), by Ari Aster
The Witch (2009), by Robert Eggers
Master the art of the “scare…”
The Possession (2021), by Juliet Snowder
I hope this was helpful. Thank you for reading Daily Writer!
– Alicia
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Alicia Sekhri
Alicia Sekhri @aliciasekhri

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