Halloween is just around the corner, and we all know what that means: spooky writing!
According to New Reader Magazine, “horror can be very difficult to write. The variety of emotional responses you can bring out is wide, and scared may not always be among them.” The magazine offers simple tips to scare your readers:
Let your readers know your characters. Give your readers time to familiarize your characters before you let the monster out to play. Give them time to care about and sympathize with them.
Consider sentence length. When you want to slow the action, make the sentence longer. When the monsters want to attack, go short.
Use your setting to your advantage. Show readers bits of the effects of what the monsters or the killer has done. Let your readers see the terrified old woman shaking uncontrollably!
Hit them where and when they least expect it. Create the action in a way that you’re directing your reader’s attention in one direction, and then coming at them from somewhere different.
Spend time understanding your characters. Know how they react in terrifying situations and know their motives. This is where you can play on relationships and increasing threats around your protagonist.
Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of “Anchored Together,” a new coming-of-age book for teens impacted by family alcoholism.
The American Library Association condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information. Since 1982, the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) compiles a list of the Top 10 Most Challenged Books in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools. The lists are based on information from media stories and voluntary reports sent to OIF from communities across the country.
The Top 10 lists are only a snapshot of book challenges. Surveys indicate that 82-97% of book challenges – documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries – remain unreported and receive no media. Of the 566 books that were targeted, here are the most challenged, along with the reasons cited for censoring the books:
George by Alex Gino Reasons: challenged, banned, restricted, and hidden to avoid controversy; for LGBTQIA+ content and a transgender character; because schools and libraries should not “put books in a child’s hand that require discussion”; for sexual references; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint and “traditional family structure”
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin Reasons: challenged for LGBTQIA+ content, for “its effect on any young people who would read it,” and for concerns that it was sexually explicit and biased
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss, illustrated by EG Keller Reasons: Challenged and vandalized for LGBTQIA+ content and political viewpoints, for concerns that it is “designed to pollute the morals of its readers,” and for not including a content warning
Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth Reasons: Challenged, banned, and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content; for discussing gender identity and sex education; and for concerns that the title and illustrations were “inappropriate”
Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis Reasons: Challenged and restricted for featuring a gay marriage and LGBTQIA+ content; for being “a deliberate attempt to indoctrinate young children” with the potential to cause confusion, curiosity, and gender dysphoria; and for conflicting with a religious viewpoint
I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas Reasons: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content, for a transgender character, and for confronting a topic that is “sensitive, controversial, and politically charged”
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Reasons: Banned and challenged for profanity and for “vulgarity and sexual overtones”
Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier Reasons: Challenged for LGBTQIA+ content and for concerns that it goes against “family values/morals”
Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling Reasons: Banned and forbidden from discussion for referring to magic and witchcraft, for containing actual curses and spells, and for characters that use “nefarious means” to attain goals
And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson illustrated by Henry Cole Reason: Challenged and relocated for LGBTQIA+ content