It’s that time of year where producing the scariest story is very high. If you want to scare your friends this Halloween, there are seven tips you can use to help create an authentic scary story.
1. Common Fears
You may think complexity is the way to go but it’s not. One thing you want your audience is to grasp onto is fear. Some common fears you can use are: any kind of phobia, and societal tensions that aren’t always talked about such as racism or mental health situations. These fears are common and may have never been discussed. Common fears are relatable and easier for an audience to navigate and understand.
2. Use Your Own Fears
Another way that can help create a story is to use one of your own. There is an advantage to using your own fears.
For one, you understand it completely and how it affects you. Use that knowledge to create a detailed scenario with terrifying description. The audience may not have your fear, but they will be right with you and understand the discomforts and terrors
3. Establish the Stakes
When creating a terrifying story, three things need to be clear:
- What is the main problem?
- Who are these Characters?
- What is it the characters will lose?
Once you answer these questions, it makes for a terrifying plot. For example, if the problem is paranormal incidents in the neighborhood, and the characters are paranormal hunters, they could stand to lose their lives, reputations, or careers as hunters of the paranormal.
When the stakes are clear the audience can be biting their lip or nails anxiously as they see if the characters will lose it all, gain everything, or possibly perish.
4. Unreliable Narrator
The narrator is a crucial part to a story. But sometimes readers shouldn’t take the narrator at face value. An unreliable narrator is a great way to focus the story somewhere else while there is something secretly brewing between the pages. Having an unreliable narrator is an advantage, it creates unexpected plot twists and surprises. What’s a scary story without pop up scares and shocks?
5. Use Trends, Make it New, Twist
Yes, we’ve heard of werewolves, clowns, vampires, and all the other cliché scary story themes. That doesn’t mean they can’t be remade into something unheard of? There are thousands of short stories and novels that follow a common trope, theme, or storyline; but their uniqueness made it a memorable read. Sometimes what you know is the most helpful tool. Just like with common fears or your own fear, a common theme can help create originality between the lines. Write something.
6. Go Where the Pain Is
This may be a difficult suggestion for some, but it can get results. If there are any memories that are painful and ring true to you, write them down. If any experiences with fears or even death, having that raw emotion can be a great start for your writing. If there are things you obsess over or are self conscious about, they can lead to a potential storyline. When it’s personal, it can be powerful.
7. Follow Basic Storytelling Techniques
As writers, we have ideas and we get so lost in the creative aspect we forget to focus on the essential tools to make a story. Without these basic storytelling tools, these potential scary stories will be a wish wash of creative ideas, but not executed properly to compel and terrify your audience.
In order to prevent this, here are four technical questions to establish first when creating a scary story:
- What fear or struggles must the protagonist overcome?
- What decision lands them in this situation?
- How will they defeat, or escape?
- What are the consequences of their actions?
I hope these tips are helpful for plotting the newest scares this Halloween season!
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