Posted in writers, Writing and Poetry

Settings for Horror

The house from the film The Amityville Horror....
Image via Wikipedia

Settings for Horror

Traci Kenworth


Settings for horror can happen anywhere. From basements to dining rooms, outdoors to in, present day to long ago. But you’re main concern here is what evokes terror for you? I’m talking: heart-pumping, sick to your stomach, ready to crawl through a narrow pipe to escape fear. It has to be something that terrifies you, so that you can convey that to your readers. Take a basement. A classic setting. The items in a basement tend to range from mildly curious to downright dangerous to have around. Old saws, bear traps, crow bars, and the likes. Any and all could be used for defense or torture.

Houses themselves have played a HUGE part in horror stories over the years. The Amityville Horror. Poltergeist. Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. Anything from haunted mansions to devil traps, curses etc. You hold unlimited means as to what tools reside in the home. Again, for defense or torture. Imagine scenes of hungry zombies at your door as Carrie Ryan did in The Forest of Hands and Teeth. You can get trapped in houses, or the house itself becomes the trap.

The woods are a popular setting. Getting lost among them can become terror itself. Having someone or some thing chasing you through can be another driving force for fear. Or perhaps, the scare comes from within your character: someone who got lost in the woods as a little girl/boy and relives the nightmare as an adult. Weapons here are nature’s caveat: tree branches, trunks, rocks, dirt, etc. You could build an arsenal out of the things available and may need to do so to keep that creature from breathing down your neck.

You can also use different time periods. Present day happenings to glimpses of deaths of long-ago victims. A lot of writers apply this to their stories. Some tales even happen in an alternate world or apocalyptic setting. There’s a full range of possibilities here. They can add a dash of zest to your writing.

The point is: anywhere in life can barrage you with terrifying thoughts and ideas; you just need to pick from among them and decide which works best for you. I like the places and time periods listed above. I also like exploring new settings. Even those I haven’t been too. To write horror (or any story for that matter) it takes a certain suspension of belief. If you can dig down deep within you and imagine your worst fears (i.e. giant spiders, venomous snakes, an attacking dog, people gone insane, a distraught mother who mistakenly thinks you kidnapped her child), you can come up with a story worth telling.


I write YA as Traci Kenworth. I also write romance as Loleta Abi.

3 thoughts on “Settings for Horror

  1. I’ve always thought it takes a special kind of bravery to write horror. To be willing to dig up the stuff in our memories or imaginations that scare the crap out of us, and then to write out every little detail…Hats off to the horror writers out there. You’re braver than me, lol.

    Becca @ The Bookshelf Muse


  2. Actually, I wouldn’t call it bravery so much as fun. I admit it. There’s something about facing your fears. Of course, only the imaginary ones. lol. In real life, I wouldn’t want to come within ten feet of a snake, put my hand into the hole of a door filled with cockroaches, or find maggots littering my yard (heard that story on the Fish). Eek.


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