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Next Class Runs August 16th – September 10th, 2021 

Nightmare Fuel

How to Write Horror That Guarantees Sleepless Nights


Nightmare Fuel: How to Write Horror That Guarantees Sleepless Nights contains content and exercises that may not be suitable for those of a nervous or sensitive disposition.

Writing the most effective kinds of horror can often involve trips to deep, dark places within yourself. Exercises recommended as part of this course involve introspective fear analyses that may prove traumatic for some individuals.

Horror is often a cathartic creative endeavor, but we do want to be fair and safe with you. This is not designed to be therapeutic.

Please be sure you are 100% confident that you want to become a powerful horror author. By registering for this course, you agree that AutoCrit, including its staff and contributors, cannot be held responsible for any emotional or physical distress suffered as a result.

Just like a virtual writing group, we all work together to develop ideas, explore themes, and elevate skills. Interaction is key and you should understand that engaging with the course, through assignments and discussion, is a necessary part of the process.

“I went from entering the class with no idea what to write, to leaving the class with a full 8-page novel outline. I got a lot more out of this class than I expected.”

–Jaime N.

Welcome to Nightmare Fuel


Throughout six separate modules, plus a diverse selection of exercises and references, Nightmare Fuel: How to Write Horror That Guarantees Sleepless Nights will take you through the tried and true principles behind any successful terrifying tale.

From foundational practices to specific, scene-based methods, you’ll learn how to find inspiration and lay down the building blocks for your stories – plus when and how to deploy your cunning ambushes like a seasoned pro.

Featuring stimulating quotes from genre luminaries, handy example text, and real-world illustrations from celebrated authors such as Brian Keene, Jack Ketchum, Stephen King and Adam Nevill, Nightmare Fuel will help you keep your eager victims turning the pages no matter how much punishment you dish out.

Join our resident horror expert, Gareth – a genre journalist, writer and critic with over a decade of experience working with all things horror across the worlds of publishing, film, and games – for additional LIVE classes and Q&A sessions.

Co-authored by genre specialist and Writer’s Craft author Rayne Hall, Nightmare Fuel offers a beginning-to-end journey that empowers you with everything you need to know about forging a career writing horror.

And that’s not to mention the private Nightmare Fuel forums: a members-only online space where you can attend live events with guest authors and more. Recent guests include Jo Kaplan, Lee Murray, Gary McMahon, and Thana Niveau. Have a favorite author you’d like to grill for a few tips? Just let us know and we’ll invite them along!

Bring your notebook – but don’t worry if you miss a live session. All recordings will be provided so you can download and catch up on the gruesome goods.

Extensive Tuition by Rayne Hall

Exclusive guidance from the author of the Writer’s Craft series


Nightmare Fuel is built for your success – and that means our guidance comes from tutors who actually live and breathe the genre.

Enjoy an extensive selection of modules from Writer’s Craft author  Rayne Hall, covering:

  • Idea generation
  • Dialogue
  • Character creation
  • Writing vivid settings
  • How to write in the Gothic tradition
  • What to do once the writing is finished and you’re seeking publication

And lots, lots more.

Nightmare Fuel isn’t simply a “one and done” course. Once the four-week period is over, you’ll retain access to our learning platform and course materials, so you can work at your own pace and continue to reference everything you’ll ever need to know about crafting spine-chilling fiction.

Module 1: Fear Warmed Up

(Live Class Monday, August 16th at 6pm EST)


Nightmare Fuel Module - Fear Warmed Up

In this foundation-setting introductory module, we’ll walk you through: 

  • Understanding the what, why, and how of fear itself – because if you’re going to wield your greatest tool with razor precision, it’s best if you understand its nuances.
  • How to quickly and easily find inspiration by turning common fears into aberrant, throat-gripping scenarios.
  • The surprising, and much overlooked, sources you can use to engage your muse, discover the stories only YOU can tell, and get cracking quicker than ever. It sure beats staring at the wall!
  • The GHOST Foundation process that helps you quickly and easily lay the groundwork for chilling tales that feel a little too close to home.

Module 2: Planning

(Live Class Friday, August 20th at 6pm EST)

Nightmare Fuel Module - Planning

Planning can be a contentious issue for authors, which is why this second module probably isn’t what you think…

Here, you’ll get a thorough understanding of

      • The difference between knowing your story and knowing your plot.
      • Why you should engage your internal architect if you want to make your story more believable… and infinitely more easy to write.
      • How to handle the ticking clock, or throw time itself into the darkness – never to be seen again.
      • How to skillfully (and effortlessly) lay figurative “traps” for your reader, without them ever suspecting a thing.

Module 3: Humans and Monsters

(Live Class Wednesday, August 25th at 6pm EST)

Nightmare Fuel Module - Humans and Monsters

Little is more important to the success of a horror story than the quality of its characters. In this module, you’ll undertake a complete exploration of:

  • How to quickly and easily generate wildly different characters, complete with realistic backstory, from your own fears and experiences.
  • The key elements of believable characters your readers will truly get behind – and feel scared as hell for once you put them in danger.
  • Why misunderstanding of handling the “stakes” is one of the biggest failures you can suffer in genre storytelling, and exactly what you should do not just to get it right, but to use them as a tool to wind your reader’s anxiety to breaking point.
  • How to bring to life a villain your readers will love to loathe – probably the best effort-to-payoff ratio of any preparatory work you can do.
  • The secrets behind writing fantastical creatures that leap straight from the page and into the dark corners of the reader’s room!
  • The simple “Mixtape Method” you can use to conjure unique monsters and lore, even when your creative juices are running low.

Backed up with pre-made custom worksheets, this module will turn all of your character- and creature-building duties into a straightforward, resistance-free process.

Module 4: Horror with Style

(Live Class Monday, August 30th at 6pm EST)

Nightmare Fuel Module - Horror with Style

No horror story is complete without a defined style – and while style can be a personal tool, specific to any given author, there are key concerns you should be aware of.

In this module, you’ll discover:

  • How different Points of View affect your storytelling, and which kinds are best for an involving, petrifying story readers feel like they can’t escape from.
  • Why being a glutton for thrills might actually be your undoing
  • How to translate the way we naturally interpret the world onto the page, so readers feel like they’re truly inside your imaginary domain – and face-to-face with death.
  • The correct way to build mood and atmosphere – and the lazy mistakes most aspiring authors make that leaves their work drenched in cliche.
  • Why you should have your own barf bag ready if you’re going to paint the town red with gore.
  • The six core elements of any written fiction that you cannot overlook… unless you want your novel to get savaged by readers and critics alike .

Module 5: Writing Nerve-Shredding Scenes

(Live Class Friday, September 3rd at 6pm EST)

Nightmare Fuel Module - Writing Nerve-Shredding Scenes

In this module we take things closer… and lay bare the building blocks for a truly terrifying scene!

Whether you’re planning to write a story that’s 100% horror, or just looking to add a few isolated moments of shock and fear to your adventure, sci-fi, or fantasy tale, this is the module for you.

Backed up by our custom Scene Planner worksheet, the nine crucial choices laid bare in this module will make conjuring your future scary scenes as simple as 1-2-3 (4-5-6-7-8-9)…

Here’s a brief hint of something you’ll need to think about:

Are you frightened by what you’ve created?

    Module 6: Killer Tips and Tricks

    (Live Class Monday, September 6th at 6pm EST)

    Nightmare Fuel Module - Killer Tips and Tricks

    Finally, no author’s toolbox is complete without a number of easily accessible utilities they can take into the action when and where the need arises.

    In this last module, we round off with a series of tips and techniques that will add that final knockout punch to your prose – completing your transformation from a writer who struggled to frighten a skittish rodent, to an uncompromising architect of thrills, chills, and kills.

    At last, you’ll be an author that horror fans know is guaranteed to deliver the sleepless nights they crave!

    To get you started with your ghastly new skills, we’ve even included an expanded set of 66 exclusive writing prompts – so you can flex those macabre muscles right away.

    Bonus: Scene Autopsies

    Nightmare Fuel - Scene Autopsies

    In addition to the examples contained within the core modules, you’ll further contextualize core teachings of the Nightmare Fuel course as we guide you, scalpel in hand, through dissection of selected scenes from works including:

    • Jerusalem’s Lot by Stephen King
    • Afraid by Jack Kilborn
    • Heathen by Shaun Hutson
    • Off Season by Jack Ketchum
    • The Ritual by Adam Nevill (now a major motion picture)

    Develop stronger insight into the storytelling techniques and psychological triggers at play within works from some of the most effective horror authors in the business – so you know exactly how and when to deploy them yourself.

    Course Exclusive: The Fearsome Five

    Nightmare Fuel - The Fearsome Five Cover Image

    As part of the Nightmare Fuel horror writing course, you’ll also receive a free bonus copy of our exclusive supplement, The Fearsome Five.

    Created exclusively to complement your course, this unique collection of thoughtful tips and professional perspective includes original writing and ideas from genre heavyweights including:

    • Tim Curran
    • Greig Beck
    • Scott Nicholson
    • Ramsey Campbell
    • Graham Masterton

    Nowhere else will you gain access to this rare collection of knowledge – and it’s strictly for your eyes only.

    Book Cover - The Parasite by Ramsey Campbell
    Book Cover - Fathomless by Greig Beck
    Book Cover - CREATIVE SPIRIT by Scott Nicholson
    Book Cover - Hive by Tim Curran
    Book Cover - Walkers by Graham Masterton

    Plus Special Guest: Geoff Brown

    (Cohesion Press)

    Nightmare Fuel - The Fearsome Five Cover Image

    Also included in your Nightmare Fuel course access is a ticket to our exclusive live streaming event with author, editor and publisher Geoff Brown of Australia’s Cohesion Press.

    Most widely known for the bestselling SNAFU anthology series, which saw multiple stories picked up for adaptation in Netflix’s Love, Death & Robots by Hollywood producers David Fincher and Tim Miller, Geoff will be joining us for a live interview including open floor Q&A with attendees.

    This is your chance to have your burning questions answered with uncompromising honesty by an established genre publisher and editor.

    Don’t miss it!

    The Nightmare Fuel Community

    Activities, guests, and hours of additional content

    Laptop screenshot of the Nightmare Fuel community with guest Lee Murray on replay

    Alongside the Nightmare Fuel course content and live classes, you’ll also receive access to our members-only community forums throughout the course period.

    Chat about all things horror, share your work, engage in creative writing activities with like-minded authors, and more.

    Plus, join us for exclusive live events with additional guests from within the horror industry. Get involved, ask your questions, and share a few laughs and cringes with some of the genre’s finest personalities at no extra cost.

    Past guests in our live events include:

    • Lee Murray
    • Jo Kaplan
    • David Haynes
    • John L. Probert
    • Thana Niveau
    • Gary McMahon
    • Rayne Hall

    If you miss an event, don’t worry – recordings are posted for community members, offering hour after hour of horrific expertise for you to slice into right away.

    Book Cover - The Parasite by Ramsey Campbell
    Book Cover - Fathomless by Greig Beck
    Book Cover - CREATIVE SPIRIT by Scott Nicholson
    Book Cover - Hive by Tim Curran
    Book Cover - Walkers by Graham Masterton

    “I got out so much more than I anticipated. This course was great, very educational, and got me out of a writing slump. For that I am very grateful!”

    –Luis M.

    All Killer, No Filler: Your Future in Fear


    The 4-week interactive writing course, including live classes, module assignments and peer review opportunity.

    Course materials presented in written, audio, and video formats. No matter how you prefer to learn, we’ve got you covered. You can even save all materials to enjoy at a later time once the course has finished.

    Easy-to-follow worksheets – including the Character Creator, Creature Creator, Scary Scene Planner, Fear Investigation Questionnaire, and more…

    66 killer writing prompts to fire up your imagination.

    Specially selected Scene Autopsies.

    Exclusive supplement: The Fearsome Five

    Live Stream Q&A Access with Publisher Geoff Brown

    Full access to AutoCrit’s exclusive Member Community network, where you can enjoy connecting with fellow authors and attending member-exclusive live events throughout the course period.

    Full access to AutoCrit Pro, the complete writing and editing platform to help you perfect your wicked new tales, throughout the course period.

    Attending an in-person course that provides the same wealth of instruction and activities you can find as part of every Nightmare Fuel class could cost you upwards of $450 depending on where you go – but we’re asking nowhere near that kind of investment today.

    Better yet, you won’t even find yourself stuck in a stuffy conference room with a lack of refreshments while you study.

    Nor will you be forced to watch the clock as your tutor umms and ahhs their way through course topics. Nightmare Fuel is all killer, no filler – designed to accelerate your progress with ruthless efficiency.

    Yet with the inclusion of your own private community, the personal interaction of attending a physical event will be readily available whenever you need it.

    Should you run into any problems, we bet you’ll even find our customer support to be frighteningly good.

    All you have to do is step inside…

    Dive into the darkness within…

    And become the literary menace you were always destined to be.

    Click the Register Now button to join us for the next scheduled course.

    Full course access just $149

    Or two payments of $74.50

    Full course access just $149

    Worry your readers, not yourself.

    Nightmare Fuel: How to Write Horror That Guarantees Sleepless Nights is our biggest standalone genre course so far. We think it’s scary good.

    But if you don’t believe that anything you’ve encountered throughout the course has helped make you a better horror author, we’re not going to put you on the rack. Your purchase is an investment in your skills as a writer – so it’s only fair you expect an improvement in your abilities.

    If you feel that hasn’t happened, just let us know within 60 days of purchase and we’ll be happy to offer you a full refund. It’s as simple as that.

    So don’t be anxious. Save that for the readers you’ll terrorize with your newfound aptitude for all things horror!

    The guest speakers alone are worth the price of admission. It’s like a writer’s convention in your home. Well worth the time, effort, and investment.

    Daryl M.

    One of the things I most wanted to improve was the scare factor in intense scenes, really building up that fear. And I thought the class helped with that a ton!

    Molly A.

    I enjoyed this course very much, and it has helped give me new things to think about when crafting my own work, horror-based or not. Thanks so much for putting it together!

    Ryan P.

    I’ve never felt so welcome and valued in a course before. Both teachers and students were so graceful towards one another from start to finish.

    Joseph P.

    You’re Not Too Scared, Are You?