How to Write a Horror Story for a Child and an Adult Reader

How to Write a Horror Story for a Child and an Adult Reader

Fairytales and old folklore stories include many supernatural elements that are somehow related to our fictional reality. While it’s natural for such altered events to be part of our lives through the collective subconscious, many of them are not taught to children out of an unknown fear. 

We don’t want to put our kids in danger or affect their reality in any way. This is why we don’t allow them to watch horror movies or thriller shows. We try to keep them as far as possible from these myths. In reality, children should understand that there is a mysterious part to our conscious world, that synchronistic realities can, in fact, interfere, and that horror stories are nothing but a part of our subconscious imagination. 

According to this article on The Cut, children exposed to scary stories learn how to handle fear in real life. Kids need to learn that energy is real, and it could have both positive and negative valences. Here’s what you need to get started. 

  • Explore what fear means

Fear can mean many different things to many different people, so your first goal is to explore what fear means to kids. What provokes fear? When are you scared? And what aspects of fear do you wish you would’ve learned earlier in life? The most common answer is ‘the fear of the unknown.’ A good way to exploit fear in fiction is by withholding information. 

  • Browse for an unconventional yet soft topic

There are three main topics you could explore since your goal is staying far away from the real world. The first one is paranormal – ghosts and stuff – the second one is monsters, and the third one relates to murder. The third topic could be the most sensitive and I would personally not go with it. The best option is monster stories since they’re so popular among children. You could write about witches, hunters, werewolves, vampires, mummies, or other night creatures.

  • Think in age groups 

You can divide your age groups into three: 3-6 years old, 7-10 years old, and 11 years old & up. For every age group, stories will differ. An 11-year-old won’t be scared of mommies as much as a 6-year-old, but a 6-year-old might not be ready to learn about witches. As children get older, your story’s resolution doesn’t have to be as happy and positive as it would when they’re very young. 

Before they’re 10-11, I’d say stick with a happy ending, argues Dan at Ninjaessay. Eleven and up, you could go with victories rather than happy endings, since kids start questioning series that end on really positive notes, ends Dan.

  • Read, read, read!

You’ve got to read scary stories for children to get a gist of how they’re created. You could start with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and read a bunch of folklore stories on the side. A good book on folklore stories is, Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. 

  • Write the beginning

You’ve got to write a strong beginning to capture your readers’ attention. The most popular way to start writing a horror story is by beginning with the middle or the end. This way, the suspense builds as the reader continues reading. You could also start by attentively describing a specific situation and leaving out important bits of information.

  • Build suspense

As with any horror story, suspense is important, so try to gradually introduce information into the narrative. You could end a chapter right where new information could be found and begin the next one by focusing on another character. 

  • Pick a climax

Your next goal is picking the climax, which is the scariest part of the whole plot. Think of something that could really terrify you but beware of age groups. For smaller kids, the “scariest” moment could be when a monster eats another character, for example. 

  • Reach a resolution

The last step is reaching a resolution and introduce your falling action. Mysteries are solved here, things start to make sense, and “why” questions are being answered. Why does the monster eat characters? Why does the witch cast spells? Why is the house hunted and by whom? 

Don’t forget, scary stories teach kids important lessons about morality and light vs evil. The light side should always prevail – this teaches kids that evil exists but it’s not as strong as the light side. The end of your story should teach them an important life lesson.

Wrapping Up

Writing horror stories for kids should be a wider and more popular topic. As R.L. Stine argues, ‘these books are entertainment.’ Stay away from the real horrors of the world (drugs, abuse, divorce) and focus on bringing the old stories back into our culture. 

Author Bio:

His name is Samuel Matthews, He is 33 years old, and he lives in Manchester. He worked as a journalist and wrote his own detective story. He loves to learn something new and meet different people. His hobbies are travel, sports, and drumming.

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