Horror Screenwriting | Print |
User Rating: / 5
Written by Reviewed by Amanda Lynn Porter   

Having absolutely no experience in the creation of a horror film, when Horror Screenwriting, written by Devin Watson, came across my desk, I hoped to gain at least a bit of insight. To my surprise, the book began assuming no previous horror-film knowledge and allowed me to really dig into the transgressive art of horror screenwriting.


Horror Screenwriting begins with an in-depth timeline of the history of horror films. Moving into the analysis of fears and their origins, author Devin Watson drives the reader to incorporate individual fears to create a compelling and memorable script. Watson reminds the reader: “Write the movie YOU want to see.” When you’re ready to write up the screenplay, Horror Screenwriting offers pros and cons on multiple screenwriting software options, tips on creating the right tone and in maintaining dimensional characters, and how to get the most out of research. Watson wraps up with copyrighting and sending out and selling the script.  My favorite? “Extra credit” exercises at the end of each chapter that help improve your horror screenwriting perspective.


Although a thoroughly comprehensible guide to the basics of horror screenwriting, this book may be of little assistance to an already semi-accomplished horror screenwriter. 


About the book:

               Paperback: 232 pages

               Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions (November 1, 2009)

               Language: English

               ISBN-10: 1932907602

               ISBN-13: 978-1932907605

               Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 0.6 inches

               Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces


Table of Contents:


Introduction by Special Effects Artist Gene Witham

Preface: The Education of the Horror Screenwriter

1. A Guided Tour of Hell

-History of Horror Films

-Trends in society that shaped films and influenced horror films worldwide

2. The Nature of Fear

-Where fear comes from

-Forming story ideas and the writing process

3. Preparing Your Zombie-Fighting Arsenal

-Horror types

-Tools of screenwriting

4. Laying Down Your Scenes

-Pacing and maintaining tension

-Continuing the script

5. Writing Effective Screams



6. The Life of a Horror Character

-Plotting Character lifelines

-How plot points are created

7. Completing the First Draft

-Adding twists and turns

-Ratcheting up tension and suspense

8. Everything Else: Tips and Tricks


-Agents and managers





About the author:

Devin Watson was born in Brunswick, Georgia, in 1978. Growing up watching countless horror films due to many childhood maladies, he harbored an active imagination and a love of writing. Even through high school and college, graduating with a degree in Computer Science, he pursued his study of screenwriting, culminating in the production of The Cursed in 2007. 

He is the co-founder of Screenwriter’s Utopia, one of the largest online communities of professional and amateur screenwriters. In addition, he runs MoviePartners, which seeks to help independent filmmakers produce the highest quality films they can make without compromising their art.


Devin Watson can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Associate Editor, Amanda Lynn Porter  has been involved in many aspects of video/film production. Starting a video production class at her middle school in eighth grade, Amanda has always enjoyed every aspect of videography. After producing many in-school productions, including a daily newscast, Amanda branched out and began directing and producing commercials and short films for law firms, intermediate school districts, and various associations throughout Michigan. 


Most recently, Amanda worked for Michael Moore on his latest documentary: Capitalism: A Love Story. You can read her new column, Amanda's Book Nook each month in School Video News.