Lesson 1 - Setting the Scene

Lesson 1 - Setting the Scene

A Lesson by KatDarkness

Setting the perfect scene for your gory, bloody, brutal events!


Every horror writer worth reading knows that setting the scene is one of the most important parts of writing a great horror story. But they also know that veering away from stereotypes is a must.

To go into greater detail on that point -

Everybody knows that haunted mansions, ancient, crumbling castles and decaying graveyards are classic setting for painful ending. Classic, but overused.


A good horror writer wants to shock and disgust their readers, make 'em cower in a corner and sleep with the lights on for the next few months. But if you want to shock someone good, a stereotypical setting is not the way to do it.

Personally, I use an innocent setting at first - a pink, fluffy, teddy-bear infested, little-girl's room works to perfection. Now let's say that I chose instead to set my story in a graveyard. People expect the coffins to swing open, revealing the rotten, bloodied bodies of the undead, as they stagger forward, arms outstretched. People expect ghosts to rise and (non-sparkling) vampires to attack. But in the little-girl's room setting, they expect nothing.

Now, let's imagine the audience's reaction to our character opening the pink-diamond handle of the white-gloss, cherry-patterned closet in the aforementioned girls' room. They think 'it'll just be cute lil dresses or something.' But imagine how much impact you'll have on your readers when what falls out of the closet is actually a mutilated, brutally-stabbed, fly-eaten, rotting corpse! It will shock them, the contrast of the innocent setting and the gruesome discovery will have the most impact on them.

Try it out - pick the most pretty, soft setting you can think of. Then break out the gore! Go crazy!

That concludes our first lesson.

Lot's of love (and blood and gross smushy red stuff)


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Added on December 28, 2012
Last Updated on December 28, 2012

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My name is Kathy, and I am a psychological horror writer, who enjoys philosophy, psychology, art, writing (duh!) reading books by Stephen King and Karin Slaughter; and writing dark, abstract poetry an..