Writing horror stories for teens can be a fun and rewarding challenge for any aspiring author. Horror is a genre that appeals to many young readers, who enjoy the thrill of being scared, the suspense of not knowing what will happen next, and the satisfaction of overcoming their fears.
However, writing horror stories for teens also requires some careful consideration of what is appropriate, effective, and engaging for this audience.
Here are some tips to help you craft a terrifying tale that will keep your teen readers hooked:
Know your audience.
Teens are not children, but they are not adults either. They have their own interests, preferences, and sensibilities that may differ from those of older or younger readers. You need to understand what teens like and dislike, what scares them and what bores them, what makes them laugh and what makes them cry. You also need to respect their intelligence and maturity, and avoid talking down to them or patronizing them. Teens can handle complex themes, emotions, and situations, but they also need guidance and support from the author.
Horror stories can be set in any time, place, or situation, but they need to have some connection to the real world and the lives of your teen readers.
Choose a relevant topic.
Horror stories can be set in any time, place, or situation, but they need to have some connection to the real world and the lives of your teen readers. You can use current events, social issues, personal experiences, or common fears as inspiration for your horror story. For example, you can write about a pandemic, a school shooting, a cyber bullying incident, a haunted house, or a creepy clown. The more relatable your topic is, the more your readers will care about it and feel invested in it.
Create believable characters.
Your characters are the heart and soul of your horror story. They are the ones who will experience the horror, face the danger, and overcome the obstacles. You need to make your characters realistic, relatable, and sympathetic, so that your readers will identify with them and root for them. You also need to give your characters distinct personalities, motivations, goals, and flaws, so that they will act consistently and realistically throughout the story.
Avoid using stereotypes or clichés for your characters, such as the dumb jock, the nerdy girl, or the evil villain.
Build suspense and tension.
Suspense and tension are essential elements of any horror story. They are what keep your readers on the edge of their seats, wondering what will happen next and how your characters will survive. You can create suspense and tension by using various techniques, such as foreshadowing, cliff-hangers, red herrings, twists, turns, surprises, and reveals. You can also use sensory details, descriptive language, imagery, metaphors, similes, and symbolism to create a vivid and immersive atmosphere for your horror story.
Balance horror and humour.
Horror and humour may seem like opposite ends of the spectrum, but they can actually work well together in a horror story. Horror can make your readers feel scared, anxious, nervous, or uncomfortable, while humour can make them feel relieved, amused, entertained, or relaxed. By balancing horror and humour in your story, you can create a contrast that will enhance both effects and keep your readers engaged. You can use humour to lighten the mood, break the tension, or provide some comic relief in your horror story. However, you should be careful not to overdo it or undermine the seriousness of your story.
You need to make sure that your ending is satisfying, memorable, and impactful for your readers.
End with a bang.
The ending of your horror story is the last impression you will leave on your readers. It is also the culmination of everything that has happened in your story. You need to make sure that your ending is satisfying, memorable, and impactful for your readers. You can end your horror story in different ways depending on the tone and message you want to convey. You can end with a happy ending where your characters survive and overcome their fears; a sad ending where your characters die or lose something important; a twist ending where something unexpected or shocking happens; or an open ending where you leave some questions unanswered or some possibilities open.
What are some good horror topics for teens?
If you are looking for some inspiration for your horror story, you might want to consider some of the following topics that are relevant, interesting, and scary for teen readers.
Social media is a huge part of teens’ lives, but it can also be a source of horror. You can write about the dangers of online predators, cyber stalkers, hackers, trolls, or catfishers. You can also write about the consequences of oversharing, cyber bullying, sexting, or leaking personal information. You can explore how social media can affect teens’ mental health, self-esteem, relationships, or identity.
School is another major aspect of teens’ lives, but it can also be a setting for horror. You can write about the horrors of academic pressure, peer pressure, bullying, harassment, or violence. You can also write about the horrors of teachers, principals, counsellors, or classmates who are abusive, corrupt, or evil. You can explore how school can affect teens’ education, future, social skills, or morals.
Family is supposed to be a source of love and support for teens, but it can also be a source of horror. You can write about the horrors of dysfunctional families, abusive parents, neglectful siblings, or estranged relatives. You can also write about the horrors of family secrets, betrayals, conflicts, or tragedies. You can explore how family can affect teens’ emotional stability, sense of belonging, loyalty, or trust.
The supernatural is a classic genre of horror that appeals to many teen readers. You can write about the horrors of ghosts, demons, vampires, werewolves, zombies, or witches. You can also write about the horrors of curses, spells, rituals, or possessions. You can explore how the supernatural can affect teens’ reality, beliefs, choices, or destiny.
Science fiction is another popular genre of horror that attracts many teen readers. You can write about the horrors of aliens, robots, mutants, clones, or cyborgs. You can also write about the horrors of experiments, invasions, wars, or apocalypses. You can explore how science fiction can affect teens’ technology, society, environment, or humanity.
© Colin Lawson Books