It was a dark and stormy night . . . wait—let’s try that again.

With Halloween approaching, it’s a great time to hone your writing in (or even try your hand at) the horror and suspense genre. However, in this genre, it can be difficult to be original and avoid common clichés. To help you sink your teeth into writing horror, we’ve gathered five tips to ensure your writing is cliché-free and super scary, in the best way possible.


  1. Be true to your own writing style.

When you’re original, it will help you avoid common plot lines and twists. Stay true to your own creativity. Don’t limit yourself by thinking something like, “my story has to take place in a haunted house or it won’t be scary.” This is not true. Creative ideas in the horror genre will be refreshing to readers.


  1. Look at what others have done.

To avoid the common cliché’s in horror, get to know the genre. Knowing what others are doing will give you a sense of what is being overdone—but may also inspire you to bring out something everyone else is missing. And, like in all writing, it’s also a good idea to read outside the horror genre to get an idea of where your fiction can take you. You never know where you might find ideas or different plot lines.


  1. Get inspiration from what scares you personally.

Instead of thinking about common items or characters that scare people as a whole, think of what scares you personally. If it’s personal, it will be easier to write about it. It will also be easier to identify why it scares you, so you can make it scary for readers. Making something frightening that usually is not can be the perfect way to avoid clichés.


  1. Use diversity in your characters and setting.

Change up your spooky read by switching around your characters and the places, or way, they live. Try tweaking your character’s age, gender, culture, race, or the setting of the story. If you change these factors, you will see how your story develops differently depending on the changes. For example, a teenage girl in New York City would certainly create a different story than an elderly man in New York City.


  1. Innovate overused characters and themes.

Don’t be afraid to use ideas that are commonly overdone—but only if you can create a new spin on them. Look at the common characteristic for that topic in TV shows, movies, and other books. Then, go a different direction. For example, if you really want to use a werewolf, instead of turning into the wolf at midnight, make it at noon instead, or switch it to where he/she is a werewolf all the time, and turns human at midnight. Innovative changes to cliché themes will take your story in a completely new direction.