Five incredible tips to help you write with tension, atmosphere and suspense...
Want to frighten your friends and family with a scary story, but don’t know where to start? Creepify your creative writing with these trusty tricks (or treats)…
- Find The Freaky.
Spooky stuff is everywhere! Look around you and write what you see (e.g. a fridge). Next, write down anything odd about it (e.g. it’s making a strange sound). Finally, work out if there could be an eerie explanation for it (e.g. maybe my fridge is haunted, but I never noticed before because both ghosts and fridges are cold). Now you have the premise for your plot!
- Set it up
Think about what your audience needs to know for the rest of your story to make sense.
“Our house was really cheap when my parents bought it. The previous owner was an archaeologist who went to jail for stealing historical artefacts, so all their possessions had to be sold to cover their costs. The house was completely empty except for the fridge in the kitchen. It was tall and narrow and didn’t have a light, but it kept things cold, which was good enough for us.”
- Build The…
There’s nothing scarier than knowing that something bad is going to happen, but you don’t know what, when, or how!
“Sometimes I’d go into the kitchen and find the fridge door was open. Other times, all the food would be re-arranged or turned upside-down. I just assumed it was my brother being lazy or pulling pranks, but then the fridge started to make a weird noise. It wasn’t the normal hum you would expect from a fridge… It was more like a moaning sound… Like someone was in pain. One night it was so loud that I couldn’t sleep, so I got up and went to the kitchen to investigate. Using my phone as a torch, I opened the fridge door and SCREAMED.”
- Show, Don’t Tell.
Let the audience experience the horror and come to their own conclusions.
“There, in our fridge, was a teenage girl. Her swollen face was covered in oozing boils and her nightdress was stained with sweat and vomit. The torch on my phone shone straight through her body and the contents of the fridge shelves were undisturbed despite her presence. She stared at me with haunting eyes.”
(This is a lot creepier than, “There, in our fridge, was a ghost.”) Surprise!
- The best scary stories have a satisfying, but unexpected
“I slammed the fridge door just as my family ran in and switched on the light. I told them what happened, but when they opened the door, the girl was gone. My parents pulled the fridge away from the wall to make sure it wasn’t a prank and gasped. The back of the fridge didn’t have a plug! It also wasn’t white; it was dark and dirty and appeared to be made of wood. Someone had tried to hide the black wood by wrapping the fridge in a large sheet of white vinyl. My parents began to carefully remove the white vinyl while my brother and I looked on in horror. What they uncovered still chills me to this day. The fridge we’d been storing all our food in since the day we moved in wasn’t a fridge at all… it was a coffin.
(If you struggle to think of a surprise, it can sometimes be easier to work backwards. Come up with the ending first and then go from there!)
Now put your new spine-tingling skills to the test! Write out your story, or turn off the lights and tell it by torchlight!