This is the same reason I am able to have more than one manuscript going at once. For instance, currently I am working on these: a paranormal with romantic undertones in the YA category, a sci-fi about aliens, another YA about a vampire hunter, and a demon slayer based on the seven deadly sins. Depending on my mood, my muse and I decide which one I want to work on when I am ready to write.
Just as I have several loose things I think about when I write YA, I have the same thing for when I write horror. I was just having a lively discussion with a Facebook friend and decided our topic would make a great blog post. He agreed. He called it advice, but I am not that pretentious. I just want to call it things I think about when I am writing horror. Again, they aren't set in stone. They just help me. Maybe they might help you, too. Maybe not. Whatever.
- The first thing I always do is place my characters in a normal situation. It's exactly what Stephen King does and why he is so good at horror, because he draws us in with the mundane, the believable, and before we know it, he twists it and swivels it and we didn't even know it was happening because we were so lulled by the normalcy in the beginning.
- When I do get to the actual horror part, I try to remember that white space can be a very effective tool. Sometimes just hitting the enter bar and giving the "discovery" it's own line can do more for the discovery than the discovery itself. Ex: If I bury "...and then she saw the hand, severed from her husband's arm." at the end of a long paragraph, I have crushed the impact it could have had. But consider if I did it this way:
And then she saw the hand. (this is the end of the paragraph).
It was no longer attached to Richard's arm.
A stand-alone line has a far greater impact than one trailing at the end of a paragraph.
3. The next thing I try to remember is that writing horror is not always about making it gory and blood-filled. Sometimes the horror part can be filled with tension or suspense. I write some horror scenes with the IDEA of horror rather than the demonstration of it. Oftentimes what the character can imagine can be far scarier to them than what is really there. The mind and what the imagination can conjure up is far more frightening than anything real. I think of my most terror-filled nightmare, and I've had a few of those, and work from there. The fear of the unknown is far more powerful that what we know.
4. The last thing I remember is this: If it scares me, it'll likely scare someone else.
So, hopefully, this tells you at least how I go about it. And if you like this, please check out my upcoming horror book, The Detention Demon, releasing in October through Aspen Mountain Press' imprint, Aura Speculative Fiction. Thanks!