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I write a lot of horror, and I notice that my characters use "Oh my God!" when they're frightened in my scenes by a demon, ghost or murderer. How can I make them seem terrified without being so cliche and using "Oh my God!"?

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  • If some humor wouldn't ruin the moment then you could have them respond with an "Oh my God!" and then think something along the lines of 'I'm rooted to the spot, terrified - and that was so cliche I want to hit myself.' Or you could make some variation of the phrase - because exclaiming something like that is a very common response (like "Dear Lord!" or "Oh my f***ing God-" or "HI! WHAT'S UP?") – Tasch Feb 29 '20 at 22:11
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Try writing their thoughts of the moment, and how their body reacts (ex: heart beating fast). Also keep in mind that there are 3 ways a character can react to a scary event. Everyone's different so it depends on the personality you gave them. 1. The runner; 2. The fighter; 3. Frozen in spot.

For example the thoughts of a runner might be “I don’t wanna die, I don’t wanna die!! I need to hide! Omg omg it’s right behind me."

A fighter might sound like “Hah! You don’t scare me! Do you think that bloody knife can stop me from taking you down?”

And the frozen in spot is panicking in their mind because they can’t move their body.

Like I said above, it depends on their personality. Also your story will sound even scarier if you add more description and less dialogue. "Oh my god!” isn’t enough. Hope this helped a bit.

Good luck with your story! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

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  • Wow! This is great information, and your examples will really help me out a lot as I proceed in writing my horror story. Thank you! – Dawn Kelli Feb 24 '20 at 18:58
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    This is a good starting place, and to flesh out responses draw from real life examples if possible. If you've ever been terrified (most people have), think about how you reacted. If you've ever seen people you know afraid, think about how they responded. This helps you get "into the mind set" of a frightened person and add a more individualistic touch to their response. – Dmann Feb 24 '20 at 20:56
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If you want to express fear, or that someone is frightened, then try and show it, not tell it. If there are multiple people in the situation, then try to describe another person. For example, 'The color drained from Jeff's face.' If there is no one else, then describe how the character is feeling. For example, 'my heart hammered inside of my chest,' or 'I gulped down the lump forming in my throat.' Your character can have some dialogue, just as as long as you don't say, 'I am so scared.' Try and say something more like, "'You don't scare me,' she said with a wavering voice." This is so you can tell the person is scared, but brave at the same time. Characters dialogue can also help develop their personality.

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