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How To Write Your Own Scary Story

Spooky season is upon us! That means trick or treat, horror movies and Halloween costumes on mass. While some may rejoice and some may moan in dread, this time of year guarantees a few certainties: sweets (or candy); Jack-O’-Lantern’s; and scary stories! And if there’s one thing we’re big on at Iternal, it’s stories. 

If you get time between carving your pumpkins, why don’t you try writing your own scary story? With our Spooky Story giveaway, there’s never been a better time to try! Not sure how, or where to start? Don’t you worry; I’ve got you covered with some great tips and tricks…

Setting and Atmosphere

Nothing sets the tone for a scary story like establishing a spooky atmosphere. Remember, you want to immerse the reader in your story so it’s important to give them the tools to do so. Think location; scenery; the weather (you know, ‘dark and stormy night’ and the likes); the sounds and smells that might send chills down the spine of your reader. 

It doesn’t have to be dark, dank and misery-inducing to resonate with the reader. What about an idyllic day in the middle of summer, with birds chirping and the sound of people having fun suddenly being ripped apart by a blood-curdling scream? I think that would scare me just as much. 

Subvert Expectations

A common critique of genres such as horror are their tendency to be a bit predictable. Certain tropes are often used and while they are effective enough to have become staples in the genre, don’t be afraid to really turn things around. What if your main character imagined it all, and THEY were the real perpetrator of all the terror occuring around them?? (I’ll give you that one for free…)

Suspense Is Your Best Friend

Take a moment to think about all the scary stories and horror films you’ve read or seen. The vast majority of them don’t actually have many horrific, gruesome moments or immediate danger for a large part of the story. It’s all about suspense! 

You want to build up to moments of sheer terror, creating tension; apprehension and fear with the pace of your plot and the stakes your character may be up against. Unanswered questions are sure to keep your reader pondering, praying for the protagonists, until the penny drops.

Play On Primal Fears...

There are some things that are near universally scary. Death – your own or another’s; the loss of someone or something close to you; being abandoned by friends and family. Dabbling with these themes are sure to elicit some real emotion in your reader.

But don’t shy away from playing on your own personal fears. By considering your own, you’ll be able to apply more detail to the feelings they inspire; feelings that may resonate with others but could also invoke new, unconsidered fear in another.

Get Emotive!

The whole point of a scary story is to – wait for it… – scare! You want your reader to feel the fear your main character does, to empathise with whatever struggle they’re going through and for their blood to run cold when they realise the horror that’s about to unfold. 

Don’t just limit yourself to fear tactics though. Like any story, a scary one should take you through a range of emotions; especially if you want the reader to feel like there are some real stakes at play. Add romantic elements if you feel like it gives your characters something to lose, or add a new dimension to an otherwise wholly evil threat. Just keep it interesting! 

Put Your Skills To The Test

Now we’ve got through some top tips for telling tales of terror, how about having a ‘stab’ at the writing one yourself? There’s never been a more perfect time, with our Spooky Stories Giveaway where you can win a Bosch Tassimo coffee machine, complete with Pumpkin spice flavouring and some Iternal goodies, worth £100!

All you have to do is submit your scary story to the Spooky Story Archive, here. Be quick; the competition ends on November 5th! Be sure to check out some of the other entries too, if you dare…