Writing horror: a beginners’ guide
Time: 18:00 - 20:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HW192
Available start dates
Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)
What is the course about?
This is an ideal course for beginners and enthusiasts alike who want to examine the particular challenges of writing in the horror genre. How to begin? How far to go? How do we frighten readers on the page? What are the particular advantages of the genre?
The atmosphere will be fun and relaxed with an emphasis on creating a supportive and enthusiastic group dynamic.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
- Horror story beginnings
- The arc of the horror story
- Jump scares vs subtle dread
- The role of satire and social commentary in horror
- The future of the genre.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Understand how to begin a horror story
- Understand how to shape a scene in a horror story
- Write the first draft of an outline for a horror narrative
- Write a story opening that terrifies (or at least discomforts) your readers.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is an introductory course best suited to writers who relish the thought of startling, disturbing and outright terrifying their readership.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Students will be taught through a mix of individual, pair and group work, tutor instruction, in-class writing tasks and text analysis.
All writing courses at City Lit will involve an element of workshop. This means that students will produce work which will be discussed in an open and constructive environment with the tutor and other students. The college operates a policy of constructive criticism, and all feedback on another student’s work by the tutor and other students should be delivered in that spirit.
For classes longer than one day regular reading and writing exercises will be set for completion at home to set deadlines.
City Lit Writing endeavours to create a safe and welcoming space for all and we strongly support the use of content notes in our classes. This means that learners are encouraged to make their tutor and classmates aware in advance if any writing they wish to share contains material that may be deemed sensitive. If you are unsure about what might constitute sensitive content, please ask your tutor for further clarification and read our expectations for participating in writing courses at City Lit.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Please bring writing materials.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
City Lit offer a range of genre fiction courses including Crime writing, Writing fantasy stories and Romance. For more information, please browse the writing section of our website.
All students are invited to join us at Late Lines, our regular performance night for City Lit writers. Students are also encouraged to submit their work to Between the Lines, our annual anthology of creative writing. For the latest news, courses and events, stay in touch with the Department on Facebook and Twitter.
Jonathan Barnes is the author of five novels, most recently Dracula's Child and The City of Dr Moreau. He writes regularly for The Critic, the Times Literary Supplement and the Literary Review. He has written extensively in the audio medium, especially in the areas of licensed fiction - Doctor Who, Torchwood, Sherlock Holmes and others.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.