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October 31, 2017

Writing Prompt #5: Crafting a Two-Sentence
Horror Story

By Shannara Johnson and Shawn Anderson

Happy Halloween! Here’s a little writing exercise that’s perfect for tricks-and-treats.

At a recent board-member meeting and retreat, Shannara Johnson proposed that we do some writing and craft two-sentence horror stories. It was a fun exercise, definitely in the spirit of the season. As we rejoined the group, we sat in the circle and read the stories aloud as an icebreaker to get the ideas and brainstorming flowing. Some went for the jump scare. Others went for the gore or combined humor with horror. We gasped. We laughed. We said “eww” a bunch of times. It was a great time and exercise.

Now let’s see what you can do…

Here are a couple creepy samples from the retreat:

The Good Son
Relief washed over me as I stood, knife dripping, over the lifeless body of my sister Maggie, the sudden stranger who’d tried to hurt Mom.
"Well done," my mother said, her sharp-toothed grin nearly splitting her face in two, "now be a good boy and give me a hug."
— SJ

Lost & Found
The midnight road transitions from pavement to dirt to grass, and ends in a small field surrounded by forest.
A blood-drenched clown slips just out of sight at the edge of the headlights’ beams.


Shannara Johnson is a US freelance copywriter and copy editor who was born and raised in Germany. She lives in Vermont with her teenage son, two badly trained dogs, and one cat who thinks he’s a dog too. As a person who gets bored easily, Shannara is unapologetically eclectic in her writing: from picture books to middle-grade and young-adult fiction, to adult horror short stories and humor—anything is fine, as long as it’s fun to write and read. You can find her equally eclectic blog at www.grumpygermanwriter.com.

Shawn Thomas Anderson is a copywriter and brand specialist by day, writer of young-adult and middle-grade fiction by night, early morning, and whenever he can find the time to get the words written down. He loves writing short stories and has published several in various anthologies. Shawn attended the University of Vermont undergrad, and has his master’s degree in Communications and Integrated Marketing from Emerson College in Boston.

He lives a far-flung corner of the state known as Northeast Kingdom. It’s a magical place where moose, bear, and deer wander through your backyard, and everyone rocks flannel. It’s a great place to work, raise children, and write, write, write.

Follow Shawn on Twitter at @ShawnTWrites and check out his website at shawnthomasanderson.com.