Horror Writing

Horror Writing: My Favourite Setting

If you go down to the woods today

Today I am writing to you about one of my favourite settings for a horror story.

The forest!

The forest is one of my favourite settings for a proper spooky story. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember, but when I tried to think about it I couldn’t for the life of me think why. I mean I love the forest, I love spending crisp autumn weekends wandering around the forests, watching the trees changing colour, picking up knickknacks (a habit I started as a kid and have never broken) watching out for wildlife and being chuffed to all hell when every year there seems to be more and more.

But why then, if I love the woods so much is it my go-to, best location for setting a scary story?

While it is possible to turn any location into a scary place with the right amount of subversion, I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. A forest is a place we learn to fear from a young age. Fairy tales, like the Brothers Grimm, teach us that the forest is where dangerous things, like monsters, witches and wolves live. But more than that, they teach us that the forest itself is scary, it’s easy to get lost and never be found, it is a place where the natural makeup of the land is dangerous.

I imagine in the days of Brothers Grimm there was a lot of danger to be had in the forest and these stories were, in part, created so people would be careful, children would not wander off and thus people would be safer. With far less woodland now than there was then this threat is no longer so great. Yet we hold onto the old stories and the fear they gave us.

Continue reading “Horror Writing: My Favourite Setting”
Horror Writing

Horror Writing: Writing a Great Setting

What makes a great horror story?

Today I want to talk about a difficult question.

There is no one perfect element that makes a great story. It’s almost impossible to break this question down into just a few elements. There are lots of different elements that make a story a good horror story. Things like characters, are they believable? The setting, is it well thought out? Does the story tap into common fears? It is suspenseful? Is it predictable? Does it strike the right atmosphere?

There’s so much to consider that to do so in one go would be madness. So with that in mind, I’m breaking it down, today I want to talk about setting.

A well-crafted setting is crucial to a great story no matter the genre. In horror, in particular, you are likely to want your setting to be oppressive in and of itself. A strong setting will add a great deal of tension, atmosphere and challenge the protagonists in such a way that the characters develop and evolve compellingly and engagingly.

But how can we craft an engaging setting, a setting that oppresses the characters and adds to the tension of the story?