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Writing Suspense or Scary Stories

By now we have worked on descriptive writing. Using the senses to create


dynamic setting and well described (albeit physically) characters. Now we are going to
focus those skills into creating a scary story. Buu-Wahahaha!
Writing suspense is an art. It is used to make the reader scared, anxious,
excited, or nervous. Great suspense writers can bring out a gamut of emotions with a
turn of a word.
Use the following to help guide you suspenseful story:
1. Create strong characters this is a given for any story. If people dont care
what happens to your characters, the story is lost. If you only take one thing
from this course, take this: Every good story has good characters. Period.
2. Put those characters in jeopardy. This will cause the reader to become
invested in the story and characters.
3. Watch your verb usage. Whisper, murmur, moaned, are more suitable
choices in suspense than said. Use language to help you.
4. Another element to use to your advantage is time. Suspense can be created
by having characters work against the clock. For example, I will kill a
hostage every hour. Do not misuse time, nothing is more boring than you
have 75 hours to respond to my demands.
5. Build and release. Tension can only build so much. If tension is perpetual it
causes a loss of suspense. Think of a balloon, if you keep inflating, without
letting air out, eventually it will burst. Work around this by picking moments
of tension, counter-balanced with moments of calm.
6. Less violence = more suspense. The fear of violence is much scarier than
actual violence.
7. Utilize reality. Make a story plausible and it lends weight to the
scary/suspense factor. If something seems like it could happen, it will make it
ten times as scary.
8. Use common fears. Some think of this as a ploy, but utilizing things that lots
of people are afraid of works well to set tome. Dark, heights, snakes, etc.
9. Foreshadow. Moments or objects should hint to the future, not state it. Axe
murder? Have the protagonist find an axe, but think nothing of it.
10. Make it personal. Use animals, kids, seniors, anything to make it personal.
11. Utilize metaphors and similes. It was so dark, it was the absence of light or
the floor creaked and groaned like a primordial beast.
12. Use short sentences. Way more impact.
Now write me a suspenseful or scary story. Rough and good copy. A page and a half
or more.