NOSLEEP AND THE RISE OF THE INTERNET HORROR STORY
By David Field
For as long as human beings have been telling stories, we’ve had this strange fascination with scaring the living daylights out of each other. How many times have you heard a spooky story told over a campfire, or been engrossed in a documentary about horrific serial killers? We love the things that terrify us, that get our blood pumping with adrenaline – stories that let us experience the thrill of danger through the safety of a book or screen.
And if you’re a horror fan, there’s no shortage of incredible stories out there: from nail-biting movies like Us or A Quiet Place to chilling shows like Black Mirror or Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that horror stories are experiencing a renaissance in the modern age. There are far more talented writers than ever sharing their stories in this immensely popular genre, and the well shows no signs of drying up anytime soon.
The best part? If you’re an aspiring horror writer yourself, it’s easier than ever to get your work out there, thanks to the massive community of readers and writers in a horror fiction website called NoSleep.
NoSleep is a subreddit with a unique gimmick: every story posted there is considered true, even if it’s a work of fiction. That means that anyone commenting on the post has to play along with the supposed reality of the story, and authors who reply have to do so in character. Stories have to be believable, too, within reason – an apocalyptic outbreak can be disproven by looking out the window, but a ghost stalking your childhood home could easily be true. While these may seem like limitations, they actually open up the doors for so many creative possibilities, and there’s no shortage of imaginative writers working within these rules to create memorable and haunting stories.
NoSleep has grown from a small subreddit to an enormous community with over 13 million subscribers. Everyone is welcome to post there, no matter how much writing experience you may have, and some truly incredible stories have emerged over the years. One of the earliest success stories was the “Penpal” series by Dathan Auerbach, who would later go on to publish a novel version of the series, as well as the bestselling novel Bad Man. Dathan isn’t the only NoSleep author to make it big, either; C.K. Walker, the author behind the phenomenal series “Borrasca,” has published a few books of her own and is now on the writing team for the aforementioned Hill House series.
NoSleep is no stranger to screen adaptations as well. Recently a SyFy Network series called Channel Zero aired full seasons based on two NoSleep stories: “Search and Rescue Woods” by Kerry Hammond, and “Hidden Door” by Charlotte Bywater. Ryan Reynolds and Steven Spielberg are also in talks to adapt some classic NoSleep tales: “The Patient That Nearly Drove Me Out of Medicine” and “The Spire in the Woods,” respectively.
Would you rather listen to these amazing horror stories instead? Thankfully there’s plenty of options for that, too. The NoSleep Podcast is an award-winning horror anthology podcast that features many hit stories from the subreddit, narrated by a team of talented readers. Plus there’s a massive community of horror narrators on YouTube who adapts their favorite NoSleep stories for the audio format.
If you’ve ever entertained the idea of writing your own horror story, you should join the NoSleep community! It’s an incredibly supportive group of writers and readers who are always encouraging each other in their writing goals and promoting published projects from its members. I myself have been a part of the community for over a year now, and it’s been amazing to be surrounded by people who are so passionate about what they do. We may write some dark and scary stuff, but you’ve never seen a bigger bunch of lovable goofballs.
You can see what’s trending on NoSleep and search for new stories here: https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep. Keep in mind that like much of the horror genre, the stories featured on this website may include violence, mature language, and adult themes that may not be suitable for children. Read at your own discretion!