Sometimes you need a good scary story. Whether you want to stir up a slumber party, creep out your little sister, or impress the kids at the lunch table, a scary story will do the trick. You can't just use any scary story, though. Everyone has already heard the town urban legends. You need something new, something different. Here are my tips for creating an awesome scary story that will enthrall your listeners and leave them sleepless later that night.
- Choose a location that your listeners are familiar with. Is there a creepy looking house down the road from you? An abandoned cemetery? Is there a corridor in your school that everyone seems to avoid? These are all prime settings for your story. You could also use something that seems more harmless - your own house, for example. Sometimes the places that seem the least likely to harbor terrors are the very best.
- Do not start out with, "Hey, want to hear a scary story?" No, no, no - that's an amateur move. Instead, start very casually. Try something like, "Did you hear what happened at (scary location)?" This is a much better set up, because it gives a true tone to the story, as if it is something you heard instead of something you're making up.
- The characters in the story should be someone your listeners think they sort of know. As in, your older cousin's friend. It doesn't matter if you even have a cousin - for the purpose of the story, you do. This character should have a pretty generic name.
- A scary noise. This seems like kind of an odd one, I know, but at some point in your story you should include a scratching or a scraping sound. Why? Later, when your audience tries to go to sleep, their ears will start to play tricks on them. Every sound in the house will be amplified. They will listen for that scary noise all night long, and they might even convince themselves that they heard it.
Once you've got those items, you're ready to begin. Now, think about your audience. What scares them the most? Personally, I like to use ghosts, monsters, and creepy creatures. Why? I live in a sleepy little town. If some sort of crime happened, everyone would have heard about it within minutes. Ghosts and creepy crawlies, though? These work for me.
Now. How you arrange those elements into a terrifying tale is up to you. Here is my basic template.
- Character goes into location for some reason - they were meeting someone there, they forgot something, they saw a light come on even though the place was abandoned, they were dared to, etc.
- Character hears the scary noise. It scares them, but they press onwards bravely. They hear this scary noise over and over again, but can't figure out where it is coming from.
- The ghost, monster, or creepy crawly is revealed to be the thing making the terrible noise. For example - a scratching noise that is coming from the other side of a closed door. Character opens the door and finds a skeleton there. The door is all scratched up - the sound was the persons fingers desperately clawing the door. Your character whirls around to leave, but finds a ghost coming at them! The ghost pushes them into the room and locks the door!
- Character is never heard from again. Maybe they told the story to 'your cousin' over the phone in a cry for help, but was never found. This way, they can't be contacted to tell whether the story is true or false. Also, it adds an element of mystery.
After you tell this story, you can act a little bit dismissive about it. As in, "Oh, you didn't hear that? Hm. Maybe it's just a story, then." This plants an idea in your listener's head. Maybe it was a story - but just maybe, it wasn't. Maybe there really is a ghost in the attic, and maybe, just maybe, it will come to get them next.
What's the scariest story you've ever heard? What's the scariest story you've ever told? And what is it that makes a scary story truly terrifying? Let me know what you think! Happy story telling!