Want to leave your reader sleeping with the light on? Follow these tips for a frightfully good read!
1) Get the feels
You have to make your readers emotionally invested in what you are writing about. Your readers should always FEEL for your characters. Make them lovable or loathsome, whatever it is the reader HAS to care about the characters. All suspense writing starts with the feels.
2) Set up a plot twist
The greatest example of the set-up-twist is the two sentence horror story. Here is one taken from Sunny Skyz's blog, by Therealhatman:
“I woke up to hear knocking on the glass. At first, I thought it was the window until I heard it come from the mirror again.”
The reader is made to think a certain way, given a false sense of security. The second sentence is the twist that makes you think very differently about the first. The secret is in the twist, so let your imagination run wild!
You can extend the ‘set up’ for as long as you like which brings me to number two.
3) Avoid … ellipses
Suspense is a very important part of writing scary stories. One way to write suspense into a story is to make big promises of action, then give the reader more information than the characters, try to keep the reader guessing and always keep your promises.
A couple plan to meet at a meeting point. That is a promise of action.
But the young man’s rival finds out and hides at the meeting point with a gun. Giving the reader more information.
The couple arrive at the place with no idea of the danger. Extend this moment for as long as possible and the reader will be on the edge of their seats waiting for the rival to appear.
Conflict. Either a fight, or a murder, or another character arrives, whatever works for your story. Keep your promises.
Remember though, too much violence or gore will start to not mean anything to your readers. A murder is not suspense writing. An abduction with the threat of murder is.
4) Pay attention to your details
It can be hard when you are writing a story to spend time on the description. But writing in detail is crucial to make sure that you ‘show, don’t tell’.Try to use all of your senses for description so that the reader is drawn into the scene:
Check out this example to get a clearer idea of what this means:
Tell: Megan shot him. Show: The smell of gun powder filled the air and Megan’s arm jolted back into her shoulder as the gun went off. She hardly heard the bang before her ears were ringing. She stared across the room, where a trickle of black blood was already being sucked up by the carpet; she could almost hear it.
If you want to write scary stories READ scary stories. When you begin to feel scared while reading, stop and think HOW the writer made you feel that way. Once you understand the technique they’ve used you can use a similar technique on your own story. Take note of how the author did it and you can start to practice it with your own writing.
What story terrified you the most? Have you got any spooky writing tips? Share them in the comments