How to Write a Scary Story

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Have you ever want to have a scary story to tell your friends while you’re sitting around a campfire or having a sleepover? Ever wanted to terrify your siblings with tales of darkness and horror? Well, it’s simple! You’ll need:

1. A torch (to shine up at your face and make yourself look ghostly)

2. A main character (the hero who has to flee or fight the monster)

3. A monster (the horrifying creation that will pursue and attack your main character)

4. A setting (classic settings include a haunted house, a dark forest, or a spooky castle)

Once you have these main ingredients, you are ready to begin. Start your story by describing the setting, making sure to use as many descriptive words as possible (e.g. ancient, crooked, sinister, creaking, shadowy, etc.) Describe your main character’s physical appearance, and explain who they are and what they are doing in that location. Are they alone, or do they have a companion? For instance, maybe their friend dared them to enter the haunted house, and now they and their friend are staring up at it in fear.

Next, describe how they enter that setting. What do they see? How do they feel? In scary stories, it often adds suspense if you describe each action in detail. For instance: “Lucy took a deep, shuddering breath, and placed one trembling hand on the doorknob. She turned it, and the door creaked open, revealing nothing but darkness.”

Then, your character sees the monster! Describe what it looks like, what it does, and how your character reacts when they see it. Then maybe your monster attacks your main character, or says something to him or her, or begins to chase him or her. What happens next? Does the monster catch your main character? Or does your character escape? Does your character have to fight the monster to survive? Describe every action sequence in clear, direct sentences, but make sure to include lots of descriptions of what your character sees and feels.

Finally, you must conclude your story. Your character has either been captured (and perhaps eaten!) or has escaped. Horror stories often end by stating that the monster is still out there, that this very moment it is stalking the woods for its next prey, and that it might come for you next! For maximum dramatic effect, shout this last bit, and then shut off the torch, plunging your captive audience into darkness. If this won’t get you a few screams, I don’t know what will!

Happy Halloween!

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