Happy Halloween! You’ve pulled your plastic skeleton decorations out of storage, you’ve found the absolute perfect costume, and you’ve put the candy mix on the front porch with a sign that says “TAKE ONE EACH” (You know they’ll all be gone within an hour, right?). The one thing you need to make your Halloween absolutely perfect is a good scary story. A story that’ll give your friends chills and goosebumps, and keep them up long after midnight thinking about it. Here are some tips to keep in mind for telling your best scary story.
Ground it in reality. Not just reality, but as close to home as possible. Are you and your friends college students? Well, so was this group of hikers that got lost not so far from here. Is there a creepy building in your neighborhood that’s always been boarded up? There’s a rumor that some high school kids broke into it and never came back. When setting the stage for your story, make sure it’s familiar and believable – this’ll amp up the fear factor.
Flip the tone. If your story takes place on a dark and stormy night, your audience will be waiting for the twist – and find themselves underwhelmed. Take them by surprise by starting out with a funny story that turns dark, or a boring anecdote that takes an unexpected turn. The characters in your story shouldn’t know what’s about to happen to them, and neither should the audience.
Show off those theatre skills. This is something you’re going to want to rehearse. Speed up on the suspenseful bits, but keep it slow and measured in between. Keep your voice low, but figure out how you need to play with the pitch and volume it as the tale progresses. Bring emotion into it with your face and voice, as if you’re really experiencing it.
End on a high note. This doesn’t have to be a jump scare, just a tidbit to drive the point home, like “see that fresh patch of grass? It covers where they found the bodies,” or “they tore down the haunted hospital, rebuilt it, and now it’s called [name of local medical center]” or “they never caught the murderer, but if you look closely, you can see that he’s standing right behind Michael.” If your audience was going to sleep before, now they’re not.
The most important part, is, of course, to have fun. After your friends are particularly spooked, lighten the mood with a costume contest and some candy corn. What’s the best scary story you’ve ever heard? Want to share your own? Take it to HearMeOut, and spread the chills.