What Makes a Story Scary?
By: Jenelle Stephen
What makes a story scary?
Women in Distress
The setting plays a big role in making a story suspensful. Usually scary stories are in a haunted house, an old abandoned castle or somewhere dark.
Where would a scary story most likely take place?
The abandoned house. Why? When we think of abandoned houses we think of being alone, dark places, scary sounds and noises. But mostly, when we see this house we see something unknown. That's what scares us the most. The darkness, not knowing what's in there.
Creating a creepy atmosphere is key to having a scary story. When you create a creepy atmosphere the reader feels just as scared as the characters. Using words that create imagery is important to creating a scary atmosphere.
"She could see the rust on the sides of the door"
"Feeling locked in the darkness she wanted to scream but a blood curdling shreak was all she could hear, but she hadn't opened her mouth."
"The darkened clouds hung low blocking the view of the heavens."
A scary atmosphere is best created by using words that create imagery and using decriptive words.
She felt scared as she walked up to the black house with 3 stairs missing and rust everywhere.
A shiver ran through her spine as she approached the mysterious house with blackened windows and crevises in the staircase.
The second example creates a more creepy atmosphere because of the descriptive words used.
Vocabulary is so important to creating a scary story. When you have a very broad vocabulary and you use words to create imagery and suspense your scary story will give people the creeps!
There are different types of words you should use in your story
-Words that create imagery
-Words that evoke the senses
-Words that heighten suspense
-Words that show fear
Words that Create Imagery
Words that create imagery help the reader understand the setting more. By using discriptive words the reader is able to understand where the character is and feel the emotions the character is feeling.
Words that Evoke the Senses
When writing a scary story its important that the reader has a clear grasp at what the character is feeling and seeing. When you use words that evoke the senses the reader knows what the character smells, sees, feels, etc.
i.e. frightening, colorless, grimy
i.e. putrid, repugnant, distasteful
Words that Show Fear
Using words that show fear tells the reader how the character is feeling. This helps the reader understand the concept and makes them feel scared too.
i.e. trembled, shaking, shuddered
Words that Heighten Suspense
Suspense comes when you build a story apon a promise that you made to the reader that has events leading up to the climax. Using words that heighten suspense are
i.e. panic, suddenly, or making a general promise
The key to a scary story is suspense. Suspense is created in many different ways. A good story with suspense will be able to sustain the suspense throughout the story. Some ways to create suspense are:
-Reader Empathy -Reader Concern -Impending danger -Escalating Suspense
Suspense is the reason that readers keep reading. Some effective ways to create suspense are to make promises to your reader. When you promise something the reader has to wait for the promise to to be fulfilled.
Another way to create suspense is to develop fears that the reader can relate to. i.e. a fear of heights or helplessness. Suspense builds as danger approaches. If you imply there may be danger appearing soon the reader will want to find out what.
Sometimes to make story seem scarier writers will add in supernatural encounters. This is whern the character would come across a ghost in a haunted house or inanimate objects.
i.e. a ghost is haunting a house where a character is trapped and someone has to come resure them
Women in Distress
Sometimes in a scary story a female will need to be rescued. During the climax a hero will come save the 'damsel in distress' from a beast or something supernatural.
Thanks for watching!