The Cult of Raccoon 62 members · 51 stories
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Group Admin

Well, it's that time of year again: April 1st has come and gone, and April 31 will be exactly 6 months between halloweens. As per usual, here is is!

Nightmare Night in April - 2021 Edition!

The Horror Write-Off where you can write your story 6 months early! (or late, however you want to look at it)

As part of my annual "Halloween in April" festivities, I'm doing another "Nightmare Night in April" writing event. Last year had about a dozen entries, but let's see if we can get a lot more this year. (Note: I don't do this as a contest anymore, just for fun. Feel free to cross-post with other events!)


Stories that you submit must meet the following criteria to be part of the event...

  • Must be Horror - If it doesn't have the Horror tag, or SHOULDN'T have the horror tag, it doesn't belong here. Soft-horror, where the horror isn't in your face or the main focus, is fine.
  • Under 15,000 words - These should be short-stories, readable in a single sitting. You don't have enough time to write an epic anyway.
  • NOT part of an ongoing series - I want you to start a story from scratch, and shouldn't have to read prequels for context. It's fine if you just mark it as a "spiritual sequel" or intend to do more later, but don't have something that relies on a previous fan work to make sense.
    --- NOTE: People have asked if they can do a story set in a pre-existing alternate universe. That's fine too, as long as you can explain the relevant information quickly at the beginning, and don't rely on reader-investment built from a previous story.
  • Make sure it's Readable - Your Spelling, Grammar, and Organization need to be of the quality people can read. Please do a proofreading pass, or maybe even get someone else to do so.
  • You MUST link the write-off folder - Part of how these work is that the bulk of them get packaged as a group, meaning the other stories get exposure from them.
  • Submit your story HERE by the deadline of May 1 May 8th - Incomplete stories are fine as long as the horror plot is built up and you are nearing a conclusion.

What makes a good horror story?

Remember, Horror doesn't have to be scary, it just has to be morbid! A good Horror story has...

  • Disturbing Premise - This is the meat of original horror is when you get something that seems awful to think about.
  • Tension - Keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, in one way or another.
  • Originality - The point is to create original horror stories. If you can't do something new, at least do a big enough twist on something old that it feels original.
  • Believability - Obviously, most of these won't be realistic, but a good horror story makes you question... "could this actually happen?"
  • Lingering Feels - A good Horror Story should leave you with that lingering sense of morbid curiosity, dread, or dark satisfaction.
  • Philosophical Interest - This is important: good horror makes us ask uncomfortable questions about our world. That's the greatest value of horror.

How this Ends...

The deadline is the morning of May 1st May 8th. I will close the folder on that date.

Need Help?

Remember that I have a set of blogs with writing advice, and I'll try to update it a few more times this month. If you want advice, that's a good place to go. You can also ask in this thread.

All that said, feel free to ask any questions below. Good luck!
...You'll need it...

Group Admin

This month has been pretty intense, with tons of paid contests and outside drama, so I'm extending the deadline for a week in case there are last minute entries.

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