No matter what genre you write for, there are a certain set of standards that need to be obeyed. Horror is no different. The rules for horror though are different than that of any other genre due to the nature of the storytelling. So, if you want to write a great horror story, try not to break these five rules.
Rule #1: Containment
If you look at each horror movie, you will find that they are pretty much all the same. Take Jaws and Aliens. They are the same story. Sure one is about an Alien in space that is determined to eat the crew while Jaws is terrorizing a small community on Earth. Both of these movies have the villain contained in a small space.
Whether it is a town or a ship, it doesn’t matter.Adding boundaries to your story makes it more intense. Look at the movie “Cabin in the Woods.” The filmmakers literally put a force field around the cabin to keep the main characters entrapped and unable to get help from the outside world. The movie “E.T” does the same thing. By containing the threat, it makes for a much more personal in your face setting.
Rule #2: A Monster
If you want to write horror, you will need one hell of a villain. There are three kinds of monsters that you can unleash in your story.
A) A pure monster. B) Domestic Monster. C) Serial Monster.
Pure monster is just that, pure. It wasn’t a hybrid or something concocted in a lab. It is just a pure evil that has been born, raised and built to do great harm and evil. These monsters do evil because it is in their nature to do so.
A Domestic monster is the crossbreeds. These are your hybrid monsters that were torn from their normal lives and created or turned into the monster that is now terrorizing your characters. These are the ones that usually have a back story as to why they have become so evil. This is also the way many of the villains get defeated as well. Their back stories will give the hero the answer they need to overcome them.
The Serial Monsters that you find in most gore fest movies these days that are hell bent on killing everyone within a five-mile radius. These are the kind of monsters that do what they do because they enjoy it.
Rule #3:Sin Sin is by far the number one rule not to break when creating a great horror film. Sin is what induces guilt and what makes the whole experience so horrible. It is the fact that your characters did something to bring these creatures into their space and if they don’t defeat the monster, it isn’t just their lives that are lost, but their souls as well.
Sin is a major driving force for your characters to set things right. It gives your characters a reason to fight on instead of giving up. Think about Aliens for example. Greed was the sin that brought the Alien aboard that eventually destroyed the cast and the whole reason the company wanted to go back for a second and third installment. Same with Jaws, if the mayor had just closed the beach down instead of letting greed control his actions, the movie would be over.
So think about these rules and how you can add them into your stories to bring your stories.