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How to Write a Scene That Will Scare Your Reader’s Pants Off

Updated: Oct 23, 2021

Hello everyone, considering the spooky season and my upcoming novel that has a horror influence. I’d like to share my take on the horror genre, and how to write an effective scary scene.

For a scene to be truly scary, it must be visceral, immersive, and make you feel as if you are the protagonist. The primary way to accomplish this is to put yourself in the protagonist’s shoes. Close your eyes and imagine your surroundings and the encroaching threat.

Describe the scene around you and describe it in a way that appeals to the scenes. I know it’s been said time and time before, but show… don’t tell. Now I bet you’re wondering what this means.

To show rather than tell means not to say, “Bob walked faster in the woods…” Instead, it means to say, “Bob wandered about the dark forest. The wind chilled him to the bone, causing his knees to knock. He crosses his arms as if he was some fictional hero. However, deep down… he was terrified.”

It is also important to not show your antagonist. This would be the one exception to the rule of show don’t tell. You want to know why movies like the Blair Witch Project. Or novels such as House of Leaves are so impactful? Because they do not show the threat, rather they make it an invisible force that gets close, but never close enough to see.

I hope these tips help you write your first terrifying scene. Whether it is for your short story or novel. I hope you leave your reader sleeping with the lights on. Happy early Halloween

Till next time.

- Matt Gorrell


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