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How To Make Your Reader Be As Scared as Your Novel’s Characters Part 1

Hello everyone, today is a shorter one but will be a test to see if you all are interested in this series. If so, please let me know and I will make a part 2. Fear is a natural emotion given our psychology and makeup. Therefore, it makes you wonder why we made a negative emotion into something that thrills. I have a theory about this and it may even explain how you can use this to your advantage as a writer.

My theory is that horror movies put us in impossible or very unlikely situations. It is these decisions that influence the character and their arc. Therefore we are attached to controlled fear because it is a safe form of essentially living another person’s life, so to speak. It also teaches you to face your own fears. Something that is a part of the reason I am so passionate about horror.

It all started when my little brother got a horror virtual reality game that scared him so much he stopped playing. So I thought why not. From the start I was hooked and played through the entire campaign that week. Another interesting personal story is that I was interested in horror movies even when I was too scared to watch them. So my solution at the time was to watch them at a very low volume and mute them during the scariest parts.

Looking back this likely sparked my passion. Human emotion is truly what makes life. It makes us who we are and helps us emphasize with others. Seeing that emotions experienced during horror films are so strong, it is no surprise we seek out this emotional thrill ride. Now I will get into how you can use these tricks in your own writing. There is more to it then you would think so let me explain.

Evoking fear and similar strong emotions with your writing is something that can be learned. It is not s that just comes to you. It is only my countless years writing stories with similar themes that I am able to. That is why I feel I am capable and equipped to share these tricks and techniques with you. Who knows, with my help you could be the next King or any other influential author in your life.

Now that I have shared why you can trust my advice, I will share another piece of advice. That is, recognizing writing is only as immersive as the writer makes it. Writers employ emotions and senses that allow the reader to step into the characters shoes. That is why I believe it is the most immersive form of storytelling. It is also this fact that drew me to novel writing in the first place.

If this is is what draws you like a bug to light then use that. Use it to keep you going. Use it to create your characters and make them relatable. Finally, use it to advocate change. You must see the novel as bigger than yourself if you want to spark any emotion. Especially one as strong as fear.

That is why it is imperative you do not lose sight of this. My final piece of advice when it comes to this is to include your personal phobias. Everyone is scared of something and you’re lying if you say you are not. So do this for me, compile a list of all your phobias if you are struggling with your horror novel. Then narrow them down to the ones applicable to your story and ultimately create situations based upon those fears.

Just like that, if you have only 5 or even 10 fears listed. You now have 5 different scenarios that can grow into scenes. Now you must just take into account your Character and their arc. With, you can make your reader scared to sleep without the lights on. With that, you can keep your reader on the edge of their seat the entire time like the novels I shared yesterday do.

Till Next Time.

- Matt Gorrell (creator of


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