5 Tips to Writing Horror for NaNoWriMo

NaNo-2015-Participant-BannerCurrently for NaNoWriMo, Brian and I are writing our new series, ORCHARD POINTE #1. Without giving too much away (though Brian did give away a few more hints today…that’s right Brian. I see you.), it’s a young adult novel series that was inspired by some of our favorite creepy movies and novels and television shows and our HUGE imaginations.

Currently we are sitting over 30,000 words, and if I’m being honest, it’s mainly due to the unwavering dedication of my incredible writing partner Brian LeTendre. I am so proud of our book. I really can’t explain it other than Brian and I share the same brain (#TeamBrolene).

This week The Midnight Society is talking writing horror. If you didn’t start with Jennifer’s AMAZING writing post yesterday, go ahead and start there. It was fantastic and talked about what she’s learned by participating in 11 years of National Novel Writing Month. Here’s the link. I’ll be here when you get back.

Whether you are participating in NaNoWriMo or you’re just writing a novel on your own time, today I’m talking five horror writing tips to see you through the month and through writing your novel.



5 Horror Writing Tips To See You Through The Month

1. Write What Scares You

I’m not saying that you MUST, but I’m saying that it’s a whole lot easier to write about something that scares you. Why? Because if you’re afraid of it, you have a leg up. You already understand why something is scary or creepy, and even if you and your main character are totally different types of people, you can still understand on some level their psyche and how they would react.

Questions to ask yourself:

What scares me?
What about that is scary?
What would I do in that kind of situation?
Why would I do that?

Type out your answers if you have to. They make excellent character studies!


2. Kill Your Characters

Or almost kill them…Or a combination of both.

I think the best kind of situations to read, are the ones where you literally have NO IDEA how a character is going to escape them. That’s why so many television finales end their season on a cliffhanger…They want that audience to come back. They want people to freak out and create buzz over their character. But you can’t have buzz or drama without putting your character at risk.

Until my twenties, I was a Mother Hen to my characters. They had little drama and they ALWAYS made it out just fine. I didn’t want to hurt my babies!

But guess what? That’s why my first, second, and third books were SO BORING. Because nothing really bad happened. Nothing was at stake. There wasn’t enough drama.

Which is completely different from my first published book HARROWED (The Woodsview Murders #1), where we tried to kill off as many people as possible. Hehe. But seriously. We did.



3. Anything is Possible

When I say this, I like to pretend that I’m Mulder from the X-Files, talking to Scully. But it’s true. Anything is possible.

the-truth-is-out-there-gifWhen I’m writing, sometimes I get crazy ideas. I mean really crazy. And a lot of the time, I shrug them off and say, THAT CAN’T HAPPEN.

But what if it did? I’ve heard more than one person say that “All the original ideas have been taken.” Meaning that there are only so many ideas in the world and by now, they’ve already happened. There can be no new  ideas in noveling. Everyone is just borrowing from each other.

Sorry, but I don’t believe that.

We as humans are incredibly creative people. When we embrace our imaginations and our creativity, the sky is the limit.

Let your wild ideas in.

Let them take over.

Anything is possible.


4. Read Read Read

I know that NaNoWriMo is all about writing but sometimes, especially when I am NaNoWriMo-ing, I may be in a lull.

I may have writer’s block.

Usually there are only two things that can get me out of it (okay three if we include coffee): Reading books and writing through my writers block!

If you want to write scary books, read them.

If you want to get ideas or learn from the “Greats”, buy or borrow their books from the libraries. Notice their style. Their diction. How they create suspense…relief. Tension.

Write to be a writer. But read AND write to be a great author.



5. Revise Revise Revise

A great horror novel has so many different elements…perhaps a dash of humor for comic relief. Fast pacing. Medium pacing. Suspense. Mystery. Fright factor. Creepiness. Give or take whatever combination.

Some people are under the (false) impression that famous writers get it done (right) the first time. Not. True. Not true at all. Not even a little bit true.

The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to write a novel in a month. Not to write a perfect, or wonderful, or great novel in a month. The great and amazing novel WILL come…after you revise.

But that’s not what you should focus on this month. Don’t let it stop you from finishing. Just keep writing. Ignore those thoughts that say that maybe your book isn’t good or great. Just write. And in December or in 2016, you can revise. And make it THE BEST THING THAT THIS WORLD HAS EVER SEEN.



Now go. Go and be amazing. And write. And don’t quit. Because you don’t want THEM to win.


Write the scariest thing that this world has ever seen. No really, go now. Stop reading this.

Okay, seriously stop. I want you to go write.


All the words,


Jolene - Midnight Society Signatures


  • seebrianwrite
    November 16, 2015

    Love this post, partner! And just for the record. Clowns. Creepy-ass clowns scare me.

  • Faith McKay
    November 17, 2015

    LOL you seriously did kill as many people as you could in Harrowed. It was nuts.

    These X-Files gifs are AMAZING, my god, Jolene.

  • lexc13
    November 17, 2015

    I guess I’m off to a good start, one main character is already dead, already know in the end the other will die and killed off one minor character. Just having trouble not ending the story already. Could have easily rushed through to end like last week.

  • Kathy Palm
    November 23, 2015

    The deaths in Harrowed… oh my. And I LOVE The X-Files! And writing horror is an art and cheers to those who do it and do it well!

  • Immortal Alexander
    September 12, 2017

    This is awesome! Thank you for the inspiration!

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