Using Yourself

Using Yourself

A Lesson by Brian W. Hastings

How to use your own responses to the world around you to achieve an effect on your reader.


Ever feel like you respond to situations different than other people?  Do things depress you that others shrug off?  Do you notice that your system is riding high on anxiety when others don't even seem to notice what is going on around them?  Have you realized yet that your fears are not shared by everybody else in the world?

This is something to keep in mind when writing any fiction.  Not just horror.  Humans are different and therefore your readers are too.

I start with this lesson for a more personal reason than to just help others.  I wanted to create the ultimate piece of horror; something that would chill each and every reader and possibly drive some to madness.

This is a pipe dream. Readers are too diverse in their own responses to ever find that one subject that will terrify them all.

So, how do you achieve an effect on each of your readers?

The horror genre is both the easiest and most maddening field to use the following trick:
    Use Yourself.

Write your own fear.  Find that deepest darkest place you don't ever want to go and suffer through it.  Detail it.  Make your own self sweat.  If your hands aren't shaking when you hit the keys then your not deep enough.  Write what you are living inside of your head or have lived before (even better) and will drag your reader through your emotion. 

Even, if in the end, there is a reader who was not scared like you were, that story or scene will have an impact.  It will drag them in and under in someway shape or form.  You will have an impact and that is the best thing a writer can hope for.

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Added on December 6, 2010
Last Updated on December 6, 2010
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Brian W. Hastings
Brian W. Hastings

Cambridge, MD

I am a horror writer and avid devourer of strange reports. I am very much into the paranormal and it inspires me to huge degree. I wouldn't call myself a gay fiction writer, but my main characters..