In the world of horror, there is always a story to create. There is always something to write about, the question is how to find it. As a writer, there are multiple methods you can use to draw inspiration from. I’m sure you’ve heard: write what you know. However, as a horror writer, it is unlikely that you have experienced something in your life that be could be classified as horror. That does not mean that you can’t take something from your life and horrify it. You can even exaggerate a nightmare you once had.
There are some cases that writers experience where they have nothing to draw inspiration from, no matter what genre you choose to write. If this is you, either right now or in the future, writing prompts are a great way to help you find your story to start writing. The Internet houses a plethora of prompts to help you get started but the question is:
How do you get from A to B, from prompt to story?
Each person interprets the same prompt differently which means that one prompt can produce various types of stories. The purpose of this article is not to tell you how to interpret a prompt to get a story idea because that is up to each individual writer. The reason I have written this article is to help you start the writing process of your story once you get an idea from a prompt.
So how do you start writing from a prompt? The key is that every story starts with a character. Once you find a story within a prompt the next step is to create your protagonist. The protagonist is the main character of the story and in every story, your protagonist needs a want or desire something. This want/desire is what the story revolves around and what drives the story forward. An example is the classic horror story The Shining. The protagonist, Jack Torrance, has the desire to be a good father, husband, and writer. As the story progresses his desires shift as he transfers into the antagonist, the villain of the story.
Once you have determined the desire(s) of your protagonist, the next step is to create the setting of your story. Where is your story going to take place, what is the environment like, and how does it look? Sometimes a prompt details the location of the story but as the writer, it is your job to create the details that make the story come to life. A little note to help you write the details that brings your story alive is to think of the five senses: touch, smell, sound, taste, sight. Writing with the idea of describing the senses will make your readers become immersed in the story. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself and ask a friend to read it.
Now that you know a few steps to help you get started with writing your story, here a few horrific prompts get those writing juices following:
A man goes missing for two years. He returns to town with one less limb than he left with.
Blood starts to drip randomly down the walls. Where is it coming from and whose blood is it?
Every morning she wakes up with one less finger on her hand. Where did they go and what happens when the last finger is gone?
A new machine is invented by the government and now a creature is on loose.
A haunted mansion disappears out of sight on Halloween night. Where did the spirits go and where or who are they going to haunt next?