What Makes a Good Horror Story
By Lisa Binion
What do I feel makes a good horror story? I like a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat or pacing the floor as you read because you are so concerned about what is going to happen to one or more of the characters. It should have words and scenes that make you shiver and send chills up your spine.
It should make you feel the need to look over your shoulder because you feel someone or something is watching you. The lights have to be on because the dark is just too scary. Even when there is nothing scary going on, you can feel undertones of horror lurking in the background.
You’re reading one of the scary scenes and are so involved in it that you don’t hear someone walk up behind you. When this person says your name or taps you on the shoulder, you throw the book up in the air and scream.
Every good story, whether it is a horror story or a romance, perhaps even a combination of the two, must have a plot that goes logically from beginning to end. Now I didn’t say the plot had to be totally realistic. Authors have the freedom to write things that are out of the realm of possibility, but they have to be able to make the reader believe it is possible in the world they have created.
The characters have to be believable and act in a convincing manner. If Sammi has been terrified of spiders all of her life, then she isn’t just going to casually allow one to crawl inside her ear. There has to be a reason for her to allow that. Something has to be on the line. Or the spider has to promise her something extremely tempting. I can tell you, there is no promise that would cause me to willingly allow a spider to crawl in my ear. No way, but if the author make it believable enough to convince the reader, the possibilities are endless.
A satisfying ending is a necessity. The story can end in a cliffhanger as long as there will be a second book. If things are left unanswered and up in the air, then it had better have a sequel. There is nothing worse than getting to the end of a story that has kept you on the edge of your seat and then saying, “That’s it?” Disappointment with a lame ending to the story will cause people to not read anything else by that author.
Softly and Tenderly is just the beginning of a much longer story. The beetles are nowhere near done with Lori yet. Her life is about to change in a very dramatic way.
“Mom died in her sleep last night.” Those are terrifying words for a child to wake up to. The beetle that falls off the stretcher and stares at her is only the beginning one of the strangest and most frightening times in Lori’s life. Death is not a pretty thing, especially not when the funeral is to be at the Lights Out Chapel and Crematorium.
Once she walks into the funeral parlor, she experiences things that no little girl should ever have to experience. No one is acting normal. No one can see what is going on. Is Lori the only one who sees the blood oozing from the pictures of Jesus on the cross? Doesn’t anyone else see the beetles? Is Lori hallucinating when she sees her mom sit up and hears her speak? There is absolutely nothing soft and tender about what happens to Lori.
From her overly morbid piano teacher to the creepy preacher and a father that just isn’t acting like himself, Lori is surrounded by people and things that hint of something bizarre. Once she leaves the Lights Out Chapel and Crematorium, things will go back to normal. Or will they?
About the author
Lisa Binion is a writer, editor, and wife. She makes her home in the beautiful state of Kentucky. Her two children are now grown, but she has been blessed with two beautiful grandchildren, Tyler and Zoey. Her family also includes four dogs, four cats, and two goats.
As the Fiction Writing Editor for BellaOnline, she writes articles, reviews fiction books, and interviews fiction authors. She is also an editor for Silver Tongue Press and Edit 1st. In her spare time, she attempts to clean house and relax.