Horror Writing 101 – Cheat Sheet

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This is a cheat sheet you can use to outline your story, game, movie or other horror project. Even if you want to run a haunted attraction or even a spooky fun house, you can use this just the same as a writer can.

Unease –
Dread –
Alarm –
Fright –
Terror –
The Unknown:
Doubts:
The Known:
Wrongness:
Realism:
Mystery:
Characters:
Jump scares:
Gore/Lore:
Story synopsis:
Location(s):
Personal Connection(s):

Basically when you get an idea use this to jot it down, then it can help you flesh things out by giving you specific things to think about. Rather than just sitting and staring at a blank page trying to figure out what you want to do with your idea.

What sorts of things will you use to cause unease in the game? What will you force the player to do to cause dread? What sorts of sounds or visuals will you use to cause alarm? What will be the main source of fright? What will help fuel their terror?

What things do you plan on having unknown at the start of the game? Will you reveal everything, or keep some or most of it from them as they play?
What will you use to generate doubts?
What will you tell them from the start, and how much of it will be correct, and how much will be BS to lead them astray?
What sorts of things will you use to create wrongness in the environment? In any NPC’s they interact with?
What is the source, if any, of realism you will use to contrast the wrongness with?
What is the mystery, or will there even be one?
Who are the characters?
Will you be using jump scares? What will they be? How will you want to use them?
What level of gore will you use? Will that be a focus, or will you focus on the story (lore)?
Give a quick synopsis of the story so you can quickly reference it and brainstorm for the other stuff.
Where does the game take place?
What personal fears are you going to use to help you really amp up the terror?

The point is to fill in the blanks while you brainstorm and let ideas flow freely. Pretty much every idea you write/type down will lead to others. So this is a scaffold to help you build up your idea(s) into something you can work with.

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