For Writing Scary Stories:

Setup: Legend of the place/item what makes it more intriguing to the character

I don’t have many words for this but it can simply be ‘this used to be burial grounds’ which is more used in children’s ghost stories. The place is more stereotypical but the item is a little less, but if you can create an old legend that keeps readers interested, go for it!

*Note: This is only my opinion that the S isn’t necessary: it’s your story!

Characters: The victims

To make your readers imagine your characters, you have to give them a good description!

My writing teacher who introduced this to me had told us a story about his gym teacher, which he described in the beginning. Mentioning things like ‘he wore a yellow shirt two sizes too small, so his stomach peeked out’ and ‘he wore the same pants everyday, nike sweatpants with the white stripes on the side, so old that the stripes were peeling off.’

Later on to his story he said,

‘I didn’t know we won, since I had no glasses, so I picked up the ball, and noticed a yellow blur in the corner of the gym.”

We wouldn’t know that it was his gym teacher if he hadn’t mentioned the yellow shirt in the beginning. Which shows how descriptions are useful.

In stories, I wouldn’t recommend doing a big description of your character, since it can bore your reader, but my tip is to keep it short but find ways to include tiny tidbits of information on the character.

‘Her golden hair glowed in the sun.”

“He smirked, revealing his dimples.’

Tip: Don’t leave your description up to the close end. With simple things you can but by the first 20-30 pages of the book, people generally create their own image of the character. Don’t leave out hair colour/texture or quirks like an old grey beanie that is still too big for the end

Also character development! You can find tips for that in other posts

Atmosphere: The mood of the story

The mood is what makes it creepy, and you can achieve the mood by adding small details and using at least 3 of the senses. I generally use, sight, hearing , and touch/feel. Of course, you can use smell and taste, but in the right timing.

“I could hear the groaning of the wood as I dragged myself up the staircase, grasping the railing which had deep claw marks embedded into its surface. There was a small lightbulb flickering in the distance, so faint that I could just catch sight of a door behind it.”

  • Hearing the groaning of wood would give you an image of an old rickety staircase, as well as the sound of the groan.
  • Grasping the railway which had deep clawmarks, would give the image of someone tightly holding onto railing, and the feeling of someone touching all of the scratches in wood (and many of us know how it feels)

Small details like these can give you an image, a creepy one. Remember also, that you don’t have to include the words sight or hear or feel.

Reaction: Your character’s response ( you learn about your character from how they react)

How your characters respond show your readers who they are. To give them a sense of individuality, make them react differently. The most common reaction is fear. But there are many ways to show fear.

Situation: Character 1 and 2 find many strange things arround their house (i.e knives stabbed into the wall, lost things, open cabinets, etc.)

Character 1: Calls the police

Character 2: Tries to stop 1 and suggests researching on poltergeists.

Situation: Character 1, 2, and 3 find a dead body in storage room

Character 1: Looks at the body in disgust, holds nose at stench

Character 2: Runs to get help

Character 3: Tries to find out what happened to the person

Edge: The scariest part, what makes your readers worry

Imagine your character standing on the very edge of the cliff: You will of course be anxious and worry for them. The ‘edge’ is the moment where people think something is going to happen, it’s the ‘don’t go down there!!” moment, the ‘ahhh! It’s going to happen!” moment. It gets your readers curious and worried.

A useful tip for me and any horror writers out there!

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.