Kids Make It Write

Spooky stories
October 17, 2011, 3:30 am
Filed under: books, halloween, holidays, kidswrites, quotes, writing prompt | Tags: , ,

Long before R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books, writers were telling stories designed to freak out their readers and even themselves! What do you think is scary? Have you tried to write about it?

Tricks and Treats for writers

Writers’ trick #1: the list

When I’m looking for ideas (or trying to plot my way out of a corner I’ve written myself into) my favorite technique is the list. If you want to write a scary story make a list of things that are scary. Example: Spiders, the dark, monsters, ghosts, graveyards, a curse. Brainstorm. Write down as many things as you can think of. Don’t worry about being silly or wrong. It’s your list –there is no wrong way to make *your* list.

What scares you?

What scares people you know? Your friends? Your little sister? Is your mom afraid of spiders? Is your dog afraid of squirrels, cars or the mailman?

What scares other people? Think of movies you’ve seen. What about superstitions– some people are afraid of black cats, breaking a mirror or stepping on a crack. Can you think of any more?

writing prompt: pick something off your list, make a second list… what about it is scary? If you picked spiders, your list might look like this.

  • They are small and could be hiding anywhere.
  • They bite (maybe).
  • They are hairy and have too many legs.
  • They can “drop” on you.

Writers’ trick #2: opposites attack

Stephen King is a very successful writer of scary stories. Some of his most popular novels and stories involve making very unscary things super scary. Christine is about a car. Cujo and Pet Semetary are stories where beloved pets go very wrong. Look around you. What is something you see every day, something so ordinary you don’t think about it? A pencil, a wastepaper basket, wallpaper? What if it were haunted? What would it do?

Writers’ trick #3: writers read

The best way to become a good writer is to read other good writers. Writers read. A lot. If you want to write a great horror story check out some of the classics.

Several great stories are available at the blog GHOST CITIES: tales of mystery and the supernatural

Writers’ trick #4: Spidey Senses tingling

Don’t forget to use your senses when you’re writing. The five senses are

  • Sight (What does it look like? What can you see? Sometimes it’s not “seeing” something that is spookiest. Or only seeing it partly. A flash of fur outside the window –is that the neighbor’s dog or a werewolf?)
  • Scent (What does it smell like? You can trick your reader or your hero because what we smell we expect to see. If your character smells pizza and then opens the oven mmmm cheese, tomato sauce and OMG what’s that?!)
  • Taste (Is it sour, salty, peppery, sweet? Does it taste like rain or chalk or soap?)
  • Touch (Is it wet, freezing cold, sticky, too hot to touch? Is it heavy, slippery? Does it tickle, tingle, itch?)
  • Sound (What’s that creaking? Is that thump thump just the wind in the trees or a still beating heart?)

The Tell-Tale Heart
By Edgar Allen Poe

True!—nervous—very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses—not destroyed—not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily—how calmly I can tell you the whole story.


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