Halloween is approaching and you know what that means. It’s time to get scared. Whether it’s through a haunted house, movie, or book this season we go towards horror for the thrill. Read horror, however, has a different audience reaction from watched horror. Horror films usually rely on the jump scare but that kind of reaction does not come easily from reading books and poems. So how do you scare your reader? The answer is simple: give them nightmares.
I’m sure you’ve read a book before that scared you so much that you weren’t able to sleep at night or you became paranoid. We know that is possible to write a story that enlists this kind of reaction and I’m here to tell you how to execute it in your writing.
There are two ways to scare your reader:
1. Creep Them Out
2. Get Too Close To Home
To creep out your reader you must think of what is creepy. For some it may be spiders and for others it may be clowns. Since the creepiness depends on the person, writing a story where your protagonist is trapped in a coffin full of spiders might be more creepy for others. However, a level of creepiness that is equal to every reader is ambiguity. Using fear of the unknown in your writing will ensure a creepy vibe to your story. You can accomplish this I multiple ways such as by having the identity of your antagonist unknown, missing faces from your characters, etc. Writing towards the creepiness factor will help your story produce the nightmares you need to scare your readers.
Getting your story close to home means that the horrors in your writing are believable and draws on reality so that it’s not a stretch for your reader to connect your story to their real life. You want your readers to believe that what happened to your protagonist can happen to them. You can do this by drawing on personalized fears that you or another have experienced. That is horror that is inspired by true events are the most scary to audiences, because it is all real with no fantasy. Getting your story too close to home means that your horror can happen to anyone and not just the fictional. Making your readers realize this will scare them with nightmares of their own life.
Now that you know a few methods to scare your readers, begin writing so this Halloween you can be the one scaring others through your words.