Story Writing 101: Structuring your Horror Story

 In this Writing 101 Series, we have already gone through writing a biography that succeeds in the market. If you have missed our article on that, you can find it here. For this one, we are getting started on our writing horror series.

We all know that a horror story is supposed to make your heart shake and pulse skyrocket, but it definitely is easier said than done! There is actually more to writing horror than just that. So we have prepared this guide for you to help you formulate your horror story for success on the market.

In this first article, we will examine how to best structure the story to ensure reader engagement and high levels of interest.  

Horror Skeletal Structure

This is definitely not new to most authors. But since we are building on it, we need to make sure y’all are thoroughly aware of pillars of a captivating horror story.

According to Freytag’s Five-Act story structure, every story flows as follows:

Freytag’s Pyramid

1. Exposition

This is more of an initial introduction to the whole story where the whole picture is drawn to the reader: setting, mood, protagonist introduction and maybe a couple more characters, the main conflict and theme of the story and last but not least the POV you’re telling the story from.

An exposition usually ends with a hooking incident on the verge of unfolding. This incident prepares the ground for the “Rising Action” phase; the inciting incident causing the turn of events.

If you succeed to hook your readers, they’ll be more likely to continue reading and enjoy the rest of the story. Now you have the stage all set for the main event.

2. Rising Action

This phase is where the main “inciting event” you are all set for unfolds. As it goes, the conflict starts to advance events. The conflict can be a series of complications leading to the major one of them. In the “Rising Action” phase, the focus is usually on the struggle the protagonist lives while aiming for their goal.

This phase is characterized by a lot of tension and mental interaction from readers.They begin to put themselves in their favorite character’s shoes and think like they were them.

3. Climax

As the name surely entails, there is a real major turn of events for the main character. It can be for the better or the worse, it all depends on how you plan to end the story or the series. For such change to happen, you need loads and loads of action and drama to make this part a real climax; the most intense and eventful part of your story.

4. Falling Action

For “Falling Action”, you can finally let your readers release the breath they have been holding for a while now. The main character looks like they have started to overcome whatever obstacles and finally look like their perseverance will start paying off.

5. Denouement

After readers have caught their breath, it is finally time for the main character or the protagonist to do the same. They have eventually overcome their obstacles and attained their goal. Things start to fall into place and the story concludes.

Having taken the Five-Act structure as a guide, it is a lot easier to build a story that keeps readers engaged from beginning to end. Of course, it can take place in the same book or be a smaller one that serves as part of a bigger Five-Act structure if you are writing a series.

Share with us your thoughts on structuring stories the best way!


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