Friday, 9 November 2012

Guest post by Tabitha Short + Giveaway

I don't really feature horror stories on the blog, but I thought with Halloween so close you might be in the mood for something darker and scarier, so please give a warm welcome to Tabitha Short horror author who will share with us the perfect recipe for cooking up a good scary horror story! :-)

The Formula for a Horror Story
by Tabitha Short

For many, the purpose of reading is to be entertained. For me, the purpose of writing is to entertain. Each genre of writing has its purpose. Young adult fiction teaches lessons in love and life while telling likely stories that create a combination of happiness, sadness and adventure. Erotica sets out to stimulate sexual desires by telling of fantasies. Horror seeks to leave an individual feeling unsettled, scared and even squeamish. I have chosen to write horror stories.

To create horror you have to think about the things that create uneasiness and fear inside of people. What was your last nightmare about? That's a good place to start. Analyze and dissect what specifically created the feelings of uneasiness and fear for you. It could be a number of things. For example, being chased by something terrifying would unnerve an individual or failing to protect one's family, especially children would create an unsavory feeling. Another good example is witnessing or being the victim of an atrocity, such as a murder or a brutal torture. It can also be something psychological as opposed to physical.

The important thing is to go for the 'wow' factor. When someone reads the story you want their jaw to drop because they can't believe what they've just read. In The Corpses of Old Farm Hill Road: The Arrogant Man, I did this by creating a character that everyone will despise. He is egotistical and cares only for himself. He treats others like they are crap on the bottom of his shoe. Very early in the story the reader learns to hate him so later when he's at the mercy of the serial killing women, the reader is torn. Do they want him to escape and get out alive? Or do they want him to be tortured and die? This creates an inner turmoil in the reader and leaves them unsettled. These are the feelings that a horror story sets out to create and leave behind.

So what's the formula for a good horror story? I use the following:

1. Start with the ordinary.

a. In my horror short The Please DO Feed the Animals ZOO, I started with an ordinary father-son relationship and their ordinary outing.

2. Make it unordinary.

a. Their outing becomes disturbing when the zoo they decide to go to becomes alarmingly real.

3. Create a problem.

a. They're trapped in a zoo filled with ferocious man-eating animals. How will they escape them?

4. Don't forget the imagery

a. It's a horror story, get dirty. Go into detail with the gory scenes.

5. End with a bang.

a. The crucial part of a horror story is the ending. Your reader has to walk away feeling grossed out, sick and/or terrified. They have to feel like they might possibly find themselves in the predicaments your characters were in.

There's one more thing. If you choose to make it into a series, here's a good tip. Your story should have an ending that makes it a good stand alone story. While it should be left open for further scary conundrums, it should still end completely. Don't blatantly say 'to be continued,' or make it very obvious that the plan is to continue into a new story. It must be a great stand alone story with room to grow into a series. Each book in the series must comply with this standard.

What is your formula for a horror story?

Happy Halloween!

You can find The Please DO Feed the Animals ZOO and The Corpses of Old Farm Hill Road: The Arrogant Man at Amazon or your favorite online eBook retail store:

The Corpses of Old Farm Hill Road: The Arrogant Man by Tabitha Short

He wakes up every morning knowing the world owes him something. Every woman was created for his demand, except for Vanessa Roundtree and her mother. Once lured onto their farm in the middle of nowhere he becomes their prey. As they torment his body, they break down his arrogance. Will he be able to escape? Or will he become just another of the corpses of Old Farm Hill Road?


His face lit up as his hand gripped the handle of the car door. His entire body felt relief and his chest rattled with cries of happiness. He pulled the handle and the familiar sound of the car door opening that met his ears brought an unsurpassable amount of joy. He climbed into the driver’s seat, arranging his broken leg with his unbroken arm. It was excruciating, but he had to get through it to get away. He was almost there. Sweat beaded up on his forehead and he prayed he wouldn’t pass out again. He just needed a few more hours of consciousness to get out alive.

As his breaths slowed he felt his way to the ignition switch to start the engine. His heart sank when he discovered the keys were not in the ignition. No worries, I can hot wire it, he said to himself. The wiring was easy to find, hidden behind an access cover. Fumbling with the wires because of his swollen fingers, he quickly found the two he needed. Bending forward was agonizing, but he managed it and used his teeth to strip the wires. He twisted the copper strands together and found the purple wire. It gave him a little bit of trouble, but he was able to skin the plastic covering from it as well.

He heard a loud clunk on the hood of the car and his head jerked to attention. Standing in front of the vehicle was Vanessa. She was jingling the keys in her hand.
“You…are…one…stupid girl,” he said aloud, most of it coming out as nothing more than mumbles. He hit the wires together and the engine stuttered and then came to life. He laughed heartily, his chest rising and falling painfully. He glanced out the front windshield, ready to enjoy the look on the stupid girl’s face, but she was not there. His fingers quickly moved to lock the doors just as he heard her grip the handle. She was at his driver’s side window.

Her face grew angry when she could not open the door. She removed her shirt, wrapped it around her fist and began hitting the driver’s side window, trying to bust it. Mathew put the car in reverse, looked over his shoulder and began to back down the driveway. He was free! As the car rolled down the curved driveway, Vanessa ran after it. He laughed out loud and considered running her over, but thought against it as he neared the end of the driveway.

Tabitha Short is the writer of many horror short stories including The Roller Coaster of Death (found in the compilation titled Misery Loves Company) and The Please DO Feed The Animals ZOO. Her YA novel, Arena Games: Petrova's Legacy, is contracted and due for publication January 19, 2013. 

Connect with Tabitha at her website - The First Five Pages blog - Facebook - TwitterGoodreads


Tabitha has generously offered and ebook copy of The Corpses of Old Farm Hill Road: The Arrogant Man to a lucky commenter!

To be entered just leave a comment and tell us: Do you like horror stories? What is your formula for a horror story?

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 23 November 2012!

Good luck!

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