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How to scare readers

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger on Sep 11, 2017 5:51:24 AM

Do you want to know how to scare people? I mean really scare people. We all have our fears. Public speaking, bear attacks, heights: you name an object, animal, place, state of being or activity, and you will find someone who is absolutely terrified of it. The problem is that not everyone is afraid of the same thing. You could write a truly terrifying novel about a bear going on a summer-long man-killing rampage in a national forest, but it may only find a limited audience because you focused on the device of your horror and didn't delve into the cost. 

To write a horror novel that is universally scary, you have to do one thing. You have to make the readers care. Namely, you have to make them care about your main characters. When your readers have an emotional investment in your protagonist, they will fear the potential loss you have in store for them. If a bear stalks a stranger, it offers some thrills and tense moments, but if a bear stalks someone you've grown to know and root for, it chills you to the bone. You know the cost if the character is lost to a brutal bear attack.

As an example, the horror classic Halloween does a superb job of getting you to care and then scares you to death. First, we get to know Laurie Strode. She's a good kid that loves her parents and feels a little awkward in her skin. She has a rapport with the kids she babysits, and she's a good friend. We like her. We care about her. We are terrified for her.

Remember, your scare tactics in a novel become universally scary when you make your readers care about your characters.

-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

Richard Ridley is an award winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.

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Jul 23, 2018 4:31 AM AnnaMid    says:

Nice advice. I am sure you will also enjoy learning tips on writing a freedom essay. Have a nice day!