H. P. Lovecraft’s Five Steps for Writing Horror

Today we thought we’d take a look at one of the most famous voices of the horror genre: Howard Phillips (H. P.) Lovecraft, author of The Call of Cthulhu (as well as numerous other short stories, novels, and poems).


Along with Edgar Allan Poe, Lovecraft influenced generations of horror writers who followed him. No less than Stephen King called him “”the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.”


Today we present Lovecraft’s five points for writing a horror story. You probably already use some of these in your writing; if not, give them a try and keep what works for you!


1. Summarize or outline your story in the order of events’ occurrence, which isn’t necessarily the order in which you’ll tell it. This helps you keep facts straight, especially if your story jumps around in time, and it’s a technique J. K. Rowling uses too.


2. Next prepare a summary/outline, but this time put events in the order of narration—in other words, the order that the reader will encounter them in the book. Include as much detail as you like, as it will make writing your first draft easier. Make sure to include notes on whose perspective the story is being told through at that time.


Call of C3. Now use the second (order of narration) outline to write your first draft of the story fluidly and quickly, without stopping too much to fact-check or edit. Follow your outline as much as possible, but don’t be afraid to change things if necessary, or if a better idea presents itself.


4. It’s during step four, your first rewrite, that you’ll pay closer attention to “vocabulary, syntax, rhythm of prose, proportioning of parts, niceties of tone, grace and convincingness of transitions.”


5. Finally, prepare a neatly typed copy (remember, Lovecraft wrote this a century ago) of the finished manuscript, revising where necessary.


Now it’s your turn to scare us! Thanks for visiting Author’s Digest.


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