Horror Writers Association Blog

Tag archive: writing for children Archives - Horror Writers Association Blog [ 11 ]

Evil Teachers and Beyond: 5 School Scare Sources

Evil Teachers and Beyond: 5 School Scare Sources

Scary school bus

The days are getting shorter and cooler, and ravaged store displays are picked-over, having only straggling survivors among the pencils, notebooks, and backpacks. Children and teens have mysteriously vanished from public places on weekdays… It’s Back to School season! In honor of returning yellow school buses, here are five school aspects to be mined for your horror stories.

1) Mind Control

Kids in classroom

From preschool to high school, kids spend a large portion of their day having someone else tell them what to do. Wear this. Eat now. Do this work now. You need the bathroom? The break’s in 15 minutes, so

Writing Prompt: A Family Fear

Writing Prompt: A Family Fear

Young Horror brings you writing prompts to energize your week with spooky idea inspiration. Are you writing picture books, chapter books, middle grade, or YA? Your next great idea could be sparked right here. Check back every first Monday of the month for inspiration. Share your ideas and discuss in the comments below. Look out for our September feature article: Found Footage Horror, on the third Thursday.


Parents can pass on their own fears to their children. Do you jump every time you see a spider in the house? Little Jimmy is picking up those cues, and he’ll …

Writing Prompt: Wicked Watermelon

Writing Prompt: Wicked Watermelon

Young Horror brings you writing prompts to energize your week with spooky idea inspiration. Are you writing picture books, chapter books, middle grade, or YA? Your next great idea could be sparked right here. Check back every Monday for new writing prompts. Share your ideas and discuss in the comments below.


In this final installment of summer treats, let’s twist a familiar tale for our wicked purposes: watermelon seeds growing plants in your belly.

It’s funny to picture at first, then absolutely horrifying. Reminds me of a rather hideous Garbage Pail Kid: Walter Melon.

Parents often tell this

The CreEpy Catalog: Frozen Charlotte

The CreEpy Catalog: Frozen Charlotte

In order to write great children’s horror, you must READ great children’s horror. To help you out with this, we’ve invited our very own middle school librarian to take you into the deepest, darkest corners of the stacks to see what frightening fiction kids are reading. Welcome to the CreEpy Catalog!


Everyone who knows me knows that I have a soft spot for dolls. Even the ones that look “creepy” find a home with me because I can’t bear to have a representation of someone’s childhood go abandoned and unloved. I love reading horror stories that feature creepy dolls, and

Writing Prompt: Ice Cream Truck

Writing Prompt: Ice Cream Truck

Young Horror brings you writing prompts to energize your week with spooky idea inspiration. Are you writing picture books, chapter books, middle grade, or YA? Your next great idea could be sparked right here. Check back every Monday for new writing prompts. Share your ideas and discuss in the comments below.

Writing Prompt: The Ice Cream Truck

Ice Cream Truck

Last week we discussed beating the summer heat of these dog days by eating popsicles. Popsicles with dire consequences! Another source of scorching heat relief is the always creepy Ice Cream Truck.

Driven by a stranger. Driving slowly down residential streets. …

Writing Prompt: Dog Days of Summer

Writing Prompt: Dog Days of Summer

Young Horror brings you writing prompts to energize your week with spooky idea inspiration. Are you writing picture books, chapter books, middle grade, or YA? Your next great idea could be sparked right here.

Check back every Monday for new writing prompts. Share your ideas and discuss in the comments below.

Dog Days of Summer

For today’s writing prompt, turn on the sprinkler, because we’re in the dog days of summer. These “dog days” point to the rise of Sirius, the Dog Star. Sirius ushers in the hottest 40 days in the Northern Hemisphere. Time to avoid heat

A Flash of Fear: Why Write Short-form Horror

For many (if not most), the first introduction to horror doesn’t come from a book or movie, but from a brief scary story told to them, perhaps around a smoky campfire in lonely–or are you alone after all?–woods. Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories collections include many of the selfsame creepy jewels of storytelling’s oral tradition, and have inducted many a child into the ranks of the horror lovers.

Sometimes, what readers really need is unfiltered, filler-free horror delivered directly to the brain.

Short horror is also popular in amateur circles, via various user-driven websites and podcasts. So, even though word counts …

Q&A for The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael

Q&A for The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael

It’s Friday the 13th–the perfect day to reach down into the grave dirt and resurrect the Young Horror (formerly YA Horror) blog and to talk about NEW BOOKS.

Hop aboard the Thirteen bus and drive through the brand new spooky picture book The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael (Candlewick 2018). Author Bonny Becker and Illustrator Mark Fearing give all the gory details to HWA YH blogger Shanna Heath below.

Whether you write horror for young people, or want to share more horror stories with the kids in your life, check in every Monday for Young Horror Writing Prompts and every …

Peekaboo with the Devil: Strategies for Hiding and Revealing Your Antagonist

Peekaboo with the Devil: Strategies for Hiding and Revealing Your Antagonist

Just like any relationship, the special bond between a horror protagonist and her antagonist benefits from a little bit of mystery. In this case, the hero is a proxy for your readers, and the mystery comes from your story’s scariest villain, be it a human serial killer or a demonic creature or the mad scientist who, when left unattended for a few minutes, will inevitably create a horrific zombie plague.

There are a host of reasons why keeping your baddie cards close to your chest can help your story’s tension and overall terror levels. Obviously, if your plot line is

The CreEpy Catalog: On the Day I Died

The CreEpy Catalog: On the Day I Died

In order to write great children’s horror, you must READ great children’s horror. To help you out with this, we’ve invited our very own middle school librarian to take you into the deepest, darkest corners of the stacks to see what frightening fiction kids are reading. Welcome to the CreEpy Catalog!


erin-mawn-headshotOne of the things I love about working in a middle school library is that kids have the ability to read independently, but they still love being read aloud to. Once a week, I have a group of fifth graders for library class, and I love the experience of …

Ambiguously Ever After: Ending the Children’s Horror Story

Ambiguously Ever After: Ending the Children’s Horror Story

IMG_20160821_211336There’s much handwringing in publishing for children about what is “right” or “appropriate.” There are many controversial subjects and editorial choices, but today we’re talking about endings. Do endings in books for children need to be happy? Or should writers of children’s books portray a realistic version of the world where things don’t always end well?

Critics and authors have come down on both sides of the issue. When the 2014 Carnegie Award was given to The Bunker Diary, it set off a flurry of controversy in the UK and prompted an opinion piece for The Guardian in which

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