I Write Horror That Trips Over Itself To Make You Smile

You can make people laugh, but you can also make them cry. You can make the everyday seem funny. You can use your fears to build a world we’ve never seen before. Writing horror? Here’s some advice!

How To Write A Vampire Horror Story | Episode 161 – YouTube
Crafting horror stories with a comedic twist is a unique and engaging approach.
Humor can be skillfully interwoven into horror narratives to create a captivating contrast.
Embracing imperfection in writing allows for more creative experimentation.
Balancing horror and humor requires careful consideration of pacing and tone.
Self-aware horror writing can create an enjoyable and unexpected reader experience.

1. Make Them Laugh So They’ll Cry

In a world where everything is funny, nothing is funny. That’s why you need to make them laugh so they’ll cry.

If you’re writing comedy and your characters are made of tears and not enough jokes, or if your story doesn’t make anyone laugh at all then that’s great! It means that you’ve got something really special on your hands. 

But if this is the first thing people say about your work: “This is too dark for me,” or “I don’t get it,” then maybe it could use some work.

The goal of any good writer should be to affect their readers in some way beyond just entertainment or enjoyment (though those are goals as well). 

You want them invested in where the story goes next; feeling like they’re part of it; feeling like what happens next matters more than anything else happening right now has ever mattered before in their lives (even though it will probably never happen again).

Improving your writing skills is essential for crafting captivating horror stories that bring a smile. Explore our article on 10 Things That Will Make You a Better Writer to discover tips that can elevate your writing game.

2. Give Your Characters Something To Love

There’s a lot of advice out there about how to make your characters likable, and there are right ways and wrong ways to do it. In general, though, you want them to be relatable and flawed and that means giving them something they love.

But just because I say “something” doesn’t mean anything in particular. Their favorite movie could be any kind of movie: comedy or drama or sci-fi or horror (especially horror). 

Their first kiss could have happened when they were six years old playing hide-and-go-seek at their cousin’s house after Thanksgiving dinner. 

That detail isn’t important for their character development; what matters is that it gives us an insight into who this person is as an individual: where did they come from? Who shaped them? What shaped them? How can we understand our struggles by understanding theirs?

3. Make The Everyday Seem Funny

In my story “A Woman in Her Bathrobe,” I take a classic horror trope the haunted house, and turn it on its head by making it mundane. 

The narrator moves into her new house and finds it filled with things that have been left behind by previous owners: an old microwave oven, stained carpeting, and broken furniture. It’s a run-down place with no style or comfort to speak of; 

She describes it as something out of “a sitcom set in 1982.” She’s surrounded by clutter that makes her feel like she’s living in a hoarder’s house (because this is supposed to be terrifying). 

She begins hallucinating about the people who once lived there before her how they were probably murdered and what might have happened to them before their death but still goes about life as if nothing were amiss. 

That kind of self-delusion is what makes us laugh at ourselves when we see ourselves acting like fools on TV; when we think about how silly these things are! 

But at the same time, they’re part of our reality too: we can’t help but laugh because we know these things happen all around us every day!

Embrace the freedom to write without the burden of perfectionism, especially when creating horror narratives with a comedic twist. Read about Why You Should Write More and Worry Less About Perfection to understand the importance of continuous writing.

4. Don’t Write About The Big Stuff

Don’t write about things the reader already knows. This is a no-brainer, but it’s important to remember that many of us don’t like horror unless it’s slightly different from what we’ve seen before. 

If your story is about someone waking up in their bed and finding out they’re an alien or vampire, chances are high that you’ll lose readers right away. 

Nobody wants to read a story where the twist has been spoiled by the first page. What makes good horror is when there are multiple layers between what appears on the surface and what happens (think Memento).

Don’t write about things that are too big for your story to handle on its terms: A classic example would be if you were writing a short story about zombies attacking New York City, and then later decided to add vampires into it as well because “it would be cool”

But this would take away from both elements since neither element will have room enough to breathe within such an overcrowded narrative! 

The key here is a balance between character development/story pacing versus adding new elements into play; one should complement the other instead of competing against the other for attention in terms of length (and sometimes even genre itself!).

5. Lie To The Reader, But Do It As You Mean It

This may be the most important tip for writing a book that people like and care about don’t lie. If you write something and then go back and change it because someone told you that it wasn’t realistic or didn’t make sense or whatever, then your book is going to feel completely false. And if your book feels completely false, then no one will want to read it. 

That said: I do think there are times when we can tell small lies in our writing if they are done with purpose and intentionality. 

One of those times is when we tell ourselves that what we want isn’t what other people want or need but this doesn’t mean anything unless there’s an underlying truth in these claims! 

We all have different tastes in art, but if everyone wanted the same thing from their favorite author/artist/etc…then no one would have anything new come out!

Exploring various forms of fiction, including horror with humor, can contribute to your growth as a writer. Find out how Reading Fiction Can Make You a Better Writer by delving into our insights on the subject.

6. Dense, Strong Verbs Are Like Magic Potions

One of the most important parts of any story is its verbs. Verbs are what bring an action to life, and in horror, they’re even more crucial: they give your characters space to move around.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read stories where characters were just standing around talking not doing anything! and it made me want to fall asleep instantly. 

But when a writer uses strong verbs like “slither” or “stagger,” then suddenly I remember why I’m reading this story at all because things are happening! And those things are happening right now!

7. Use Familiar Words And Icons In Unfamiliar Ways

One of the best ways to create unease is by using familiar words and images in unfamiliar ways. This can be accomplished through a variety of strategies, such as:

Using words that are common knowledge, but applying them to a new context or scenario. For example, you might use the word “tortilla” in your story but where? 

Are you talking about tortillas as weapons? Are they being used as currency? Is there some kind of weird romance brewing between two tortillas? The possibilities are endless!

Using familiar imagery to create an unsettling feeling in your reader’s mind. Images like broken glass, fractured mirrors, and even just regular old static electricity may feel ordinary on their own.

But when combined with other elements like these things being found inside another person’s body (a very strange place for everyday items) you’ve got yourself a recipe for success!

8. Show What You Mean Instead Of Trying To Say It

The most common mistake I see writers make is telling, not showing. This happens when you get stuck on a description and are trying to explain something. 

Instead of saying that your character is angry or lonely, show the reader what he or she does when they’re feeling those feelings.

Here’s an example:

“She glared at me for being late.” This just gives us a statement about her character, but it doesn’t tell us why she’s mad or how her anger manifests itself physically through this glare. 

Instead, try something like “Her icy-blue eyes locked onto mine and I could feel the ice burn into my skin as if she had reached out and stabbed me with an icicle.” 

There’s more detail here about what exactly happened than just saying she was angry; now we know that she looked at the narrator with those eyes (which can be any color). 

Plus there’s more detail in describing how this look affected him he felt coldness and pain from it! Try to avoid telling your readers what characters say instead of showing them how they act, speak and behave when they talk (and especially after they’ve said something).

The core of good writing lies in simplicity and clarity, which also applies to crafting horror stories with humor. Uncover The Simple Secret of Good Writing and understand the foundational principles that lead to compelling narratives.

9. Sacrifice An Adverb Or Two On Your Altar Of Readability

“Never use the words ‘it was.’ They’re the weakest grammatically, and they can’t be edited out.”

Stephen King

Adverbs are a double-edged sword. Sometimes they improve readability by helping your sentences express things more clearly or vividly. 

Other times, they clutter up your text and distract readers from what’s important. As with so many things in writing, it’s all about control: using adverbs to enhance your writing when appropriate and avoiding them when not needed.

10. Use Our Fears To Build A World We’ve Never Seen Before

Your story should be able to take the reader from their world and into the one you created. The first step of doing this is by making them feel uncomfortable, but not in a bad way. 

You want your reader to feel like they are in the story with your characters because it creates a sense of immersion and makes them more likely to read on. 

One way you can do this is by using some of our most common fears: darkness, being alone, or being lost in an area we don’t know well or have been before but don’t remember as much about (like when you’re driving somewhere new).

11. Let The Reader Think One Thing, Even While You’re Thinking Another

Let’s say you’re writing a story about a group of friends who go on an adventure together. They’re traveling to an abandoned, haunted amusement park to find the last piece of evidence that will clear one of their friends’ names.

Do you know what they think they’re going to find there? The piece of evidence! But if you’ve done your job right, they won’t be getting what they were expecting at all.

Instead, maybe there will be something else entirely a clue that leads them back home, or a note from the person who framed their friend in the first place and it may not even help them solve the case at all!

Writing Horror? Here’s Some Advice!

Writing horror is hard. You have to be willing to let the reader think one thing, and then surprise them with another. 

You have to be willing to sacrifice a few adverbs, even though it hurts. You have to let go of your pride sometimes I mean let it go and tell yourself that if you can’t find something scary in the story, maybe something funny will work instead?

The good news is that there are plenty of other people out there who are doing scary stories just as well as you could hope for! Here are some examples:

While horror writing is your focus, it’s worth exploring diverse aspects of writing, like why giving up on SEO. Contrasting perspectives can provide valuable insights into different facets of the writing journey.


I hope these tips help you if you’re interested in trying your hand at writing horror fiction. 

Horror is such a fun genre and can be a particularly good one to explore your weirdest ideas like, say, a haunted house that was a realtor who died during an open house, or a disembodied hand with a mind of its own. 

You can let yourself go; that’s what makes it so much fun. Also: monsters! (Just kidding.)

Further Reading

Explore these resources to dive deeper into the world of horror writing:

Tips for Crafting Horror Stories: Discover practical insights and advice to enhance your horror storytelling techniques.

Favorite Short Scary Stories: Immerse yourself in a collection of short, chilling stories that can inspire your own creations.

Writing Believable Horror and Suspense: Learn how to infuse authenticity and suspense into your horror narratives with these valuable tips.


What are some key elements of effective horror writing?

Effective horror writing involves creating a palpable atmosphere, developing relatable characters, and strategically building tension to immerse readers in a gripping experience.

How can I balance horror and humor in my writing?

Balancing horror and humor requires careful pacing and the ability to play with contrasts. Subverting expectations and using dark humor can create an engaging blend of emotions.

How do I make my horror story believable?

To make your horror story believable, focus on character reactions, establish a logical internal consistency, and anchor supernatural elements in a relatable context.

What techniques can I use to build suspense in my horror narrative?

Building suspense involves pacing revelations, withholding information, and creating a sense of impending dread. Strategic use of foreshadowing and unexpected twists can also enhance suspense.

Where can I find inspiration for my horror stories?

Inspiration for horror stories can be drawn from real-life fears, personal experiences, folklore, urban legends, and existing literature. Observing the uncanny aspects of everyday life can also spark creative ideas.