How to Write a Weird Tale

Weird stories are of two kinds—those in which the horror or marvel concerns some condition or phenomenon, and those in which it concerns some action of persons in connexion with a bizarre condition or phenomenon.

Having decided on a mood, picture, situation, legend, tableau, or climax to express, it is often advisable for the author to explore the list of basic horrors quite thoroughly in order to find one especially adapted to the given framework. This done, all possible ingenuity must be used in order to develop a logical and naturally motivated explanation for the given effect in terms of the basic horror adopted.

Record all bizarre ideas, moods, images, dreams, conceptions, etc. for future use. Do not despair if they seem to have no logical development. Each one may be worked over gradually—surrounded with notes and synopses, and finally built into a coherent explanatory structure capable of fictional use. Never hurry. The best stories sometimes grow very slowly—over long periods, and with intervals in their formation.


DESCRIPTION: In his essay “Notes on Weird Fiction,” Lovecraft describes the method he uses to write weird fiction in an attempt to encourage and instruct others.

CITATION: Lovecraft, H. P. “Notes on Weird Fiction.” Collected Essays. Edited by S. T. Joshi, vol. 2, Hippocampus Press, 2004, pp. 169-74.

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