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Don’t Write Horror Until You Read This—Fiction Editor Reveals the Top Worst Horror Writing Mistakes

Warning: Today's images have been inspired by some gnarly stuff. May gross out lame, non-horror fans

Don’t Write Horror Until You Read This - Fiction Editor Reveals the Top 14 Worst Horror Writing Mistakes, on The Writer's Cabin

The Top 14 Horror Writing Mistakes According to a Fiction Editor

Horror writing is a specific art form for a specific type of person. A complex task for a complex and often twisted mind.

In horror writing, you have to balance atmosphere and suspense and manage to evoke fear in the reader. You have to push the boundaries and walk the tightrope between being edgy and maybe going too far.

You must navigate through many unique challenges and expectations in the genre as a horror writer. But it's crucial that you avoid common pitfalls and mistakes to create spine-tingling narratives that leave your audience clamoring for more, not running for the hills screaming.

In this article, we will cover 14 common horror fiction writing mistakes that you should avoid—those that I have learned in my many years as a fiction editor but also as an avid horror consumer.

By steering clear of these issues, you will be able to hone your skills and elevate your storytelling prowess. You will be able to craft tales and not only entertain but also terrify your readers with each turn of the page.

During our exploration, we will cover some of the most common pitfalls in horror writing, such as poor atmospheres, clichéd monsters, overexposition, stereotypical characters, and unearned jump scares.

If you want to master the horror genre, then the first step is to acknowledge these mistakes, learn from them, and then wield that newfound knowledge for evil.

Here are the 14 most common horror writing mistakes:

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Neglecting Atmosphere

You have finally published your horror novel! And you're even lucky enough that a few copies sell.

A reader opens your story, eager for the thrill of the spine-tingling dread you promised them. They are ready to plunge into a world of shadows, where fear lurks around every corner, and the unknown holds them in its icy grip.

But…as they turn the first page, they find themselves in a place devoid of atmosphere. The air is stale, and the setting lacks that indescribable, bone-chilling ambiance.

It's giving them nothing.

Neglecting atmosphere is one of the most common missteps in horror writing that I see as a fiction editor. It's akin to entering a haunted house with the lights on and the curtains drawn—it robs the reader of that delicious sense of unease and anticipation that defines the genre.

In horror, the atmosphere is everything. It is the foundation that every scare in your book is built on. It's the oppressive silence of an abandoned asylum, the claustrophobic darkness of a haunted forest, or the uncanny stillness of a decaying mansion.

I have an entire article on creating a great horror setting and atmosphere that is linked below.

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