With Halloween coming up and the house decorated with creepy spider webs and stuff, it’s the perfect time to dabble in writing scary stories! I thought I would share the materials I made for the kids for our Writing Workshop.
Before they delve in to writing, I wanted to spend some time talking about what makes a story creepy. Scary stories often involve fear and tragedy. Suspense and tension are key components of scary stories. I really want the kids to think about how to create that suspense.
To start out, we’ll brainstorm words for creepy or scary. Here’s a list to work from: awful, disgusting, disturbing, eerie, frightening, ghoulish, macabre, menacing, ominous, sinister, terrifying, weird, direful, dreadful, gruesome, hair-raising, horrible, itching, itchy, nightmarish, shuddersome, threatening, unpleasant, alarming, chilling, hairy, horrifying, intimidating, shocking, spooky, bloodcurdling, horrendous, spine-chilling, unnerving Hopefully, that will start getting us into the right mood.
In this mini-lesson, we’ll look a bit more closely at some of the elements of a scary story. How does the setting affect the mood and tension of a story? How can you create a eerie, ominous atmosphere… one that will tap into the reader’s fears? How do you make main character believable, likable and vulnerable?
Build suspense and tension. What are some ways you can do this?
- Sometimes it helps to have your main character make mistakes… or to make choices you hate!
- Sometimes it helps to restrict the character’s movement (think of being stuck, trapped, unable to run)
- Alternate between tense moments and quiet moments when the character calms down, breathes and feels safe again. Then re-engage the character in the conflict, this time making it even more serious or threatening.
- People fear things they don’t understand (a cold touch on your shoulder when no one is there!
- Think of things that revolt you. Can that be woven into the story?
If you are interested in the printable I made for the kids, feel free to download it (and to make as many copies as you need for your home or classroom). Hope your kids have fun with this!
By the way, I also have some Halloween and “scary story” writing prompts that I gathered from various places around the web. I did not write these, so can’t share them publicly, but if you’d like a copy of those, just drop me a note liesl at homeschoolden dot com and I’ll try to email you the pdf.
For younger kids: If your kids are a bit younger, you might enjoy the Monster creative writing packet that my kids did a number of years ago. (I see that it now costs 25 cents over at Currclick.)
This was what I wrote about it (back years ago):
I have a reluctant writer, but LD absolutely LOVED this Monster creative writing packet!! So believe it or not, LD and DD spent an hour and a half writing and drawing! First they wrote descriptive words about a monster. Then drew its picture. Then they went on to brainstorm some questions (a monster’s name, place, etc.) and wrote a poem with alliteration. Finally they did more brainstorming before writing a story.
Other Mini-Lessons to Use in a Writing Workshop (in any order):
- What makes a good book or story?
- Make your story come alive with details and description.
- Creating Interesting Characters
- Story Openings: Set the mood or feeling of your story
- Gathering story ideas from your own life
- Alliteration and more
- Adding Details Exercise (Don’t miss this one, the kids LOVED this activity!!)
- Writing Workshop: Conflict in Literature (Man vs. Man, Man vs. Self, etc)
- Writing Workshop Discussion Questions
- Writing Workshop Mini-Lesson: Rules for Writing and the Story Writing Process
How and Why We Started Using a Homeschool Writing Workshop and Other Writing Workshop Resources on our Blog:
- Creating a Homeschool Writing Workshop – Post #1 — How/Why we needed a change in our writing program
- Creating a Homeschool Writing Workshop – Post #2: Creating a Writing Workshop Area and Materials to Have on Hand
- Creating a Writing Workshop Post #3: This post is about Mini-Lessons during writing time, mentor texts and includes reviews of 8 or 9 writing books that you might find helpful.
- Writing Resource Pack: This is a post about the 30-page pack I made for our writing workshop. Reference pages on the 6 +1 Wri ting Traits, Mini-Lessons, the types of writing, creating a powerful beginning, techniques for ending a story/paper, and so forth. (These writing resources are free to download.)
- 40 Journal Writing Prompts: Free Printable
- 15 Halloween Party Games Free printable
- Halloween Lanterns: This is a craft we did 6 years ago!
See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! ~Liesl