So where do you stand on the whole Halloweeny thing? Do you see it as a celebration of our long forgotten Pagan and Druid ancestors, their ghosts roaming free until dawn, or the stuffing of small children with copious amounts of sugar and letting them issue menacing threats of violence against anyone whose door they happen to knock on? I know, bit harsh, but wouldn’t Hallowe’en be better spent telling ghoulish stories and scary tales, punctuated with the occasional jam sandwich and some sugar mice set in green jelly for sustenance? You can tell I don’t have small children.

But what makes the best stories? Apparently there are only three stories, ever.
A Love Story (happy)
A Love Story (Unhappy)
A Creepy* Story

*meaning, ghost, ghoul, unexplained, scary etc and it’s great when you get all three in one place ahemm... Cathy and Heathcliffe.. although I don’t actually remember too much happy lerv in Wuthering Heights. And then there’s Bram’s Dracula, Mary’s Frankenstein - fabulously scary stories then and now, both appealing and enduring. Double whammy.

OK - so here we go! How to write that oh-so-elusive scary story:

1. Less is more. Always. Don’t over-do the adjectives. Keep them to a minimum whenever you can.
The dark and eerie lane twisted and turned unnervingly and uninvitingly before him…
or
The darkened lane stretched out uninvitingly before him…

The first sentence makes the lane sound like a rushing river, whereas the second is calm - still even - fostering a feeling within the reader of Whatever You Do, Don’t Go Down That Lane! leaving you, as the writer, the option to decide whether he does go down that creepy lane or not.

2. A Sense of Place: Where does your scary story happen? Desolate car park late at night? Busy bustling supermarket in broad daylight? To Goth or Not To Goth, that is your question. Without doubt, the dark is always a good place for a spook-up. But then, so is someone in the back seat of your car when you’re in the front and you didn’t start your journey any passengers. Or how about the heat of the Australian outback, the sweat pooling on your forehead as you drive through the oppressive heat - only to glance in the rear view mirror and look straight into the eyes of a ghostly hitchhiker?

3. Conflict. No conflict = no story, so what will it be? Unexplained Event? (feeling of being watched/shadowy face at the window/odd events contriving to make your protagonist feel like they’re going mad etc?) Face to Face Ghoul meeting? Ghosts trying to contact us? Premonition? Dark Energies? Take your pick!

4. Link your protagonist to your conflict (that’s the story bit). For example, ‘the lads were starting the stag night in their local pub, when a young woman approached the groom-to-be an asked if he remembered her..’

5. Make like twirly pasta and put a twist at the end. And in the middle if you can get away with it. Is that ghost really a ghost? Is our hero/ine the real ghost? Did we actually see that creepy thing just out of the corner of our eye or was it a reflection in the window? Wait! - there is no window...

6. Read whatever everyone else is writing and see what works for you as a reader. This story below is taken from http://www.buzzfeed.com/awesomer/boo-scared-you and they got it from Reddit, where presumably it was posted by a genius.

A Quiet Cabin Deep In The Woods
My wife was shaking me quietly. I looked around the cabin. The girls must have gone to bed. The fire had burned down to embers. My glass of scotch was still in my hand. “Something is tapping on the porch.” Then I heard it too. I grabbed my axe and lit the lantern. I opened the door expecting a raccoon or a skunk, but instead found a boy of about 10 years old. He stared at me petrified for a moment, then bolted down the path through the woods. I gave chase. He was losing me but I heard him tumble to the ground. I leapt on top of him in a rage.
“Why were you knocking on my porch?” I screamed.
 “My uncles told me to,” he stammered. I was no longer angry but confused.
“But why?” I asked.
“To get you out of the cabin.”

Happy Hallowe’en!