A Sense of Dread features three main sections.
1) A detailed examination of the biological, psychological, and cultural bases of fear. What fears do we share with animals? What fears are uniquely human? What fears have we learned from our culture? From our families? From our experiences growing up? And what, exactly, is the difference between fear and dread?
2) A Sense of Dread then combines these ideas to explore the roots of human fear and apply them to storytelling for the screen. “The Toolbox of Dread” outlines the techniques for creating terror on the page. A wide array of horror subgenres are also explored, including why they exist, and what challenges each presents to the horror screenwriter.
3) Author Neal Marshall Stevens puts Theory into Practice, using examples from his own work to demonstrate how to apply his “toolbox” and the principles of “Dread” to put real scares into the pages of a screenplay. Finally, we seek to answer the question many people ask: What are you afraid of?