Thursday, October 29, 2015

How to Tell a Scary Story

There’s no better time in the year than Halloween for sharing scary stories. And there are SO MANY scary stories out there; in fact, there are entire books and movies and magazines dedicated to them.

It may seem like spinning a spooky yarn ought to be easy as pumpkin pie, but, like tight rope walking, writing a children's book (Am I right, guys?), and drinking black coffee, telling a scary story is a skill that must be honed with years of careful study.

But, since Halloween is just a few days away, consider this our Scary Story Bootcamp.

via duplexproductionblog.com
Props:

The only true necessity is a flashlight. Shine it under your face in the dark and give your audience a ghoulish grin. Works every time.

Other props might be things like a scary mask, a storyteller's costume (cape? top hat? pipe?), maybe some fake snakes or bugs, or spooky music to play in the background.

Setting: 

You might think the setting in which you tell your creepy tale story isn't important. Wrong. Atmosphere is vital. Here are some tips on working your audience into maximum fright before you even open your mouth.

  • Indoors: 
    • Make a blanket or pillow-fort. First off, they're awesome. Second, they'll hide all the light from outside the fort, leaving your flashlight as the only source of light. And third, forts are awesome.
  • Outdoors: 
    • Do you have an outdoor fire pit? The eerie light will flicker; the fire will crackle; and creatures of the night will skulk and slither in the shadows just out of sight...
via stellarfour.com
The Story: 

You've selected your setting and collected your props; now it's time for the main event.

Speaking in front of an audience can be nerve-wracking. Practicing before is always an option, especially if you aren’t too familiar with the story.  Adding changes in the tone and volume of your voice throughout can also enhance the story and get children more intrigued in what happens next. But just remember: it's important to seem confident in the story you're telling. Whatever the story is, it is true. If you believe it, your audience will believe it too.

But how do you pick one?

The best thing to do is to learn a few on your own, improve them, and then swap them with your friends. Pretty soon you'll have a good collection built up! Becoming familiar with some classic scary stories that originate from folklore in Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark can always be a good place to get some ideas; but here are also a few tried and trues to get you started:

Not Very Scary/Kinda Funny:
Moderately Scary:
Super Scary/Proceed with Caution: 
The Best Original Scary Story Ever:




Okay, that last one might be biased, but it is a great spooky story and you can read it (or hear it!) yourself in Bill Harley's third Charlie Bumpers book, Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull!





Did we miss any of your favorite stories? Have you made up an awesome one that you'd like to share? Do you have any more tips on how to tell them? Leave a comment below!

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