How to Write a Horror Screenplay – Script Writing Examples

How to Write a Horror Screenplay - Script Writing Examples

If you’re a newbie producer it’s worth you looking into how to write a horror screenplay as a way to break into the business. Horror movies always draw big cinema crowds and are always a big hit at rental stores.

People like to be scared by new and interesting concepts – this means just one unique idea could change the direction of your career ( and your life ).

In this article we will be looking at a template put together by a few independent filmmakers native to this site. We will also be covering a publication that will teach you the difference between good and bad script writing examples…

US Link – How Not to Write a Screenplay: 101 Common Mistakes Most Screenwriters Make

UK Link – How Not to Write a Screenplay: 101 Common Mistakes Most Screenwriters Make

Step One

There’s no point looking into how to write a horror screenplay unless you have some sort of idea to build upon. Ideally this idea will be something you deem ‘original’ because the horror industry is saturated with poor ripoffs.

If you are struggling on this idea you may want to try out a tip I was taught when I first started out – try writing an original take on an old theme!

This can work wonders if you manage to capture the audience’s imagination with a modernized idea on a classic story ( and you have A LOT of classic stories to choose from! ).

Step Two

I have come across hundreds of poor script writing examples in the horror genre and this is normally down to one pitfall – the characters.

Indiana Jones CharacterYou have to make sure the characters are the type of people the audience will care about. Even the characters that are doomed to die within the first half of the film should have some sort of substance to them.

Designing characters your audience is familiar with will keep them invested in those characters and their well-being. The audience will also feel fearful for these characters when a suspenseful scene is being played.

If you are somehow able to make the audience think ‘what would I do in this situation’ you are onto a winner. If they can relate to the character then this should be relatively easy to achieve.

Step Three

Try your best to build up a roller coaster feel throughout the film – use your fright scenes wisely!

If you squeeze in to many scary moments you are going to dampen the overall effect of each one. A good producer/writer knows that spreading out the scary scenes will have a much better overall effect.

Think about Found Footage Horror – every story starts really slow but we are always aware that the film is building towards something. The fright scenes are always spread out so that you have no idea they are coming – they catch you out every time!

Step Four

When learning how to write a horror screenplay it’s best to think about both sides of the coin – antagonist (bad guy) and protagonist (hero) need the same amount of care and attention.

Darth Vader The Classic Antagonist

I often find that poor horror script writing examples involve an antagonist that has no real story behind them. They just end up being some sort of nasty entity that has no reason or cause for their actions.

  • ​Why are they this way?
  • What drives them?
  • Where do they originate from?

Don’t create a ‘bad guy’ without motivation – it’s been done way to many times before and it just doesn’t have the same effect any longer.

Step Five – How to Write a Horror Screenplay

There is no point going into this ‘half cocked’ as you want your screenplay to be taken seriously. Most ( if not all ) impressive script writing examples have been put together using the proper script format.

Screenwriting software automatically handles script formatting for you and makes the whole process a lot easier. When you have screenwriting software in place you can simply concentrate on your story and nothing else.

Thankfully there is a FREE online option I have used on several occasions to create my screenplay – Celtx.

A simple Google search for this site will take you straight through to it. It does offer more professional paid options for pre-production but the online screenwriting section is completely Free ( and effective! ).

Learning how to write a horror screenplay really is that simple! If you are looking for more information on the subject we have included links to a fantastic publication in the first section of this article. This book will teach you how to avoid the pitfalls of bad screenwriting and arrive at your film’s destination intact – it’s well worth a read!

Good luck with your screenplay 🙂

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