Friday, October 28, 2011

How to Scare Your Readers...In a Good Way

YAY! I'm taking part in a Halloween Blog Hop! :) Romance Girls Gone Goblin Hop, to be specific! As a fun surprise, I'm giving away an ebook set of books (Light Series) in celebration of said blog hop. It's open internationally, so LEAVE COMMENTS TO ENTER! And today, as a participant, I've chosen the topic of creepy writing methods. For all my potential authors and those interested in writing some spine-tingles into their work, just a few tips below to nudge you along!

1. Scare Yourself.

One of the main measurements of how well something is going to disturb your readers is whether or not it keeps the author awake at night. I've written scenes about shadow creatures, banshees and ghosts galore, and my favorites are the ones that really messed with me when I tried to go to sleep.

2. Be There.

Readers know when you've detached from your own story--they can feel it in the writing (or lack thereof.) A suddenly cliche or flat sentence will hit them just as hard as an off note in a song, so, dig deep into your own imagination and try to experience what's happening from as personal a perspective as possible. If you're walking through a cemetery, don't imagine the most impressive words possible to describe a tombstone. Imagine how it smells creeping through that graveyard at night, with the wind whirring past you like fantom arms and an owl flashing you a glowing pair of eyes from leafless branches. If you're getting chills while writing it, if you're ready to jump a mile because you're so into a scene that the slightest interruption will scare the poop out of you, then well done!

3. Embrace Your Dark Side.

I think that some people, writers or otherwise, are really afraid to embrace their own fears. But taking the very thick of what bothers you, embracing the root fears you only entertained as a child will build a great foundation for your paranormal scene. For instance, if you can't get yourself to watch The Exorcist because you were raised Catholic and it freaks you out, or maybe something about those damned bodies rising from the mud in Poltergeist makes you turn the station every time--bingo. You've found a point emotional enough to you that you can write it exceptionally well.

4. Read What Scares You and Pay Attention to the Details.

I've read a LOT of Stephen King, and the most disturbing things he's written aren't necessarily about the ghosts or the monsters, themselves. It's the smell of the bodies in The Stand, the way he describes a rotting corpse as a "sick sweet treat" for the maggots, the laughter of the devil as he taunts a little boy beside a river. These things are more psychological...and they stick with your reader.

I'm one of those people who likes to take a fear and get lost in it, let it turn from terror to fascination, so it's no surprise that I've done the paranormal thing. I was horrified of horror movies and such when I was a kid. And they still freak me out, but I also can't get enough of them! I guess I'm a glutton for punishment. Hope I've helped any potential spooktastic writers out there!

Scare on,


Amaleen Ison said...

Some great advice there, Jennifer. Like you, it's always the non-obvious stuff that bothers me and replays in my head come lights out time.
Loving the blog-hop and glad to have found yours :-) Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

Jen said...

Thanks for stopping by, and it's nice to meet you, Amaleen! :)

CarolOates said...

I agree with everything you've said here. When I'm writing I try to remember the five senses in each scene. Sometimes it's the small things that stay with a reader.

The Romanceaholic said...

From a reader's standpoint, you're absolutely right :)

Thanks for the giveaway!

romanceaholic at gmail dot com

Jennifer Lane said...

Good tips, Jen! Have a creepy Halloween.

geschumann said...

Good advice. Thanks for the tips & the giveaway! Gloria

geschumann at live dot com

Yto said...

the psychological thing is so true - i love those books.
thanks for the giveaway ^^

witchvela at web dot de

Nikki said...

I'll tuck these away if I ever write scary :) books!! Great post!!

Krysykat said...

Thanks for the tips!


Anonymous said...

Good advice, Jennifer. I totally try to go more for the psychological bent of a scene too. If I can nail that, I'm happy. :) Nice to meetcha, and I hope you have a happy Halloween.

Anonymous said...

Hеllo, οf course this artіcle is genuinelу gоod and
І haѵe leaгnеd lot οf things from it аbout blogging.


Also visit my websіte :: lloyd irvin

Anonymous said...

I droρ а сomment when I especiаlly enjоу a post
οn a webѕite or if I havе ѕomething to сontгibute to thе conѵeгsation.
Usually it's caused by the sincerness displayed in the post I browsed. And after this post "How to Scare Your Readers...In a Good Way". I was actually moved enough to drop a thought ;-) I actually do have a few questions for you if you tend not to mind. Could it be only me or do a few of the comments look like they are written by brain dead folks? :-P And, if you are writing on additional sites, I'd lіκе to
follow уou. Could you liѕt еverу one
of all youг communal ѕitеs liκe yοuг Faceboοk pаge, twіttеr fеed, or
linkеԁin pгofіle?

Havе а loοκ at my blog роst reputation management