Are You Afraid of The Dark?

are-you-afraid-of-the-dark

If you’re a 90’s kid like me you probably remember the TV show ‘Are You Afraid of The Dark?’ with a few smiles. This is because it had great episodes (that were a lot scarier than goosebumps).

So, what makes a good ghost story?

ghost-with-a-bed-sheetSigmund Freud

  1. Good characters. No joke. The creepiness isn’t everything here. People need a reason to be scared and a reason to open that door that really shouldn’t be opened. Are they curious? Heard a cry for help? Fell?
  2. Which brings me onto my next point. Be original. None of those white sheet ghosts that go ‘ooooh’ or pictures with literal moving eyes. Think of something new. Jaded ideas are hardly going to scare, are they?
  3. A great way of coming up with genuinely scary and original ideas is by delving into childhood – things like clowns, bikes, tunes, whistling. Have a read of that old guy up there you might not recognise: Sigmund Freud. For those who know how hard he can be to read: his work on ‘The Uncanny’ establishes how something familiar can be defamiliarised in order to get an uncanny and sometimes scary effect.
  4. The Unknown. Yes, that works as a sentence by itself. The unknown is what humanity has always been afraid of (or most of it anyway) the unexplained and unscientific, unspecified stuff that just happens. The bumps, cries, and out of place. This is the stuff fear is made of.
  5. Something that sticks with the reader after the story. This is usually something original but it can simply be unexpected, too. Maybe the protagonist is the new haunter. Maybe no one dies (I know, shocking, shocking). This can also be a message or moral hidden in the plot. Don’t be obvious though! (Readers usually hate morals being shoved down their throats!)

Tips

scaryWriting2-300x198

  1. Get your hands on some books. Have a look on play, ebay and amazon and don’t be afraid to buy used books, either. There are some great ones out there on the supernatural, paranormal and the unknown. Have a mooch around and pick and choose your favourites for stories.
  2. Read some other fiction. Other writers get things right sometimes, too. Learn from them.
  3. Get a friend to read your story through. Does it scare them? Where do they get bored? (This is where you need to tighten things up). Is there anything they skip? (Same problem).  This, of course, is good practise for all stories.
  4. Does it scare you? It may sound silly. I never thought I’d be scared by something as I wrote it but it happened with the ghost story I wrote last month so keep an eye out for it.
  5. And finally, have some fun! Not everyone gets to write ghost stories in their spare time! Channel the spirit of a bonfire in the woods with marshmallows, some shadows, a chill and a good scare.

Let me know if you get really into something or if you knock up any good books or stories in your research!

Again, as always: Holly Ice’s Twitter and Holly’s Publishing Credits Page

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