How to Write a Scary Story

Yikes! What was that sound?

In this video, I answer the question “What is ‘creepy’?” to provide more clarity on how to write a scary story. More often than not, creepy is ambiguity- when once cannot tell what may harm them and what may not. Intentions are cloaked in shadow, and mystery turns to trepidation. Fear is born! But, as a writer, how do we make readers feel this feeling of fear? Well, there is a formula, and it goes like this:

Normal- Odd – Creepy – Scary

This formula is critical for storytelling, and each one is important. Here’s what they mean and why:

1. Normal – This step is arguably the most important. You have to keep the reader’s interest and have them relate to the character. This is what sets the baseline for the entire story. Foreshadowing is fine in this stage, but be careful not to overdo it. Emotional investment is key, because in order to be scary, you have to manipulate the reader’s emotions. They must care about the character!

2. Odd – This is the ordinary things that happen everyday and are unlikely to herald disaster. Example: Leaving your car unlocked, hearing a knock on your door

3. Creepy – Creepy is a series of odd occurrences, and while odd occurrences by themselves are uncommon, having several odd things happen in a short period of time builds suspense and suggests something is wrong. It’s at this point where the possibilities open, and often the character fails to distinguish reality from fantasy. Cue the monsters!

4. Scary – If you do everything right before this stage, you can do almost anything you want. Add a bunch of crazy looking monsters, make the impossible happen- even defy the laws of nature! Do everything it takes to scare the crap out of the reader.

Thank you for watching!


VSauce (For a great definition of scary)

Stephen King (For being hella scary!)

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