What scares you?

When I write my horror stories, the first question I ask myself is, what scares me?  What fear of mine am I putting into this story?  It’s the most basic of writing principles:  write what you know.  So what am I afraid of?

First off, spiders.  I’ll admit I’m an arachnophobe.  I hate the little creepy crawlers.   My fear really extends to all sorts of arachnids and insects.  I don’t even like lobsters and crabs and won’t eat seafood in general (though a good fried shrimp from a Japanese restaurant, sautéed in teriyaki…mmmh).  So, when I write stories and I need a really scary monster, I fall back on my fear of spiders.  That’s the basis of White Widows, in fact, one of my first published stories.

But of course, you can’t always use the same monsters in your stories.  But what you can do is use the properties of what scares you over and over.  For example, maybe you are afraid of big dogs, so you write a story about a possessed dog.  Your next story, maybe you have a serial killer who is vicious as a rabid dog and mauls his victims.  Then it’s a story about aliens who are dog-like, etc.  If you can distill your fear into its elemental state, you can use it whenever you need.  And your stories will end up more real, more visceral, and will convey your fears to the reader.

So if some night you wake from a nightmare that makes you shiver and turn on all the lights, write down what it was that scared you so much.  You never know, it might become your next masterpiece.

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