Campfire Ghost Stories: The Method To The Madness
Camping, especially as a kid, provides the means to make countless, treasured memories. Remember when dad would prank you? He would wake you up by pulling you out of the tent by the legs, and mom would bark at him for dragging you through the dew-soaked grass and dirt of the campsite?
Ah, the memories. But, what about at night? Of course you have the fire going, on which the delicious tin foil-wrapped dinner is cooking, but what about AFTER that?
Did your parents ever tell campfire ghost stories? Maybe when camping around Halloween? Sure, maybe they did, but were they actually good? The answer is: likely, no.
Well, have no fear (irony intended), as in just a moment, I will lay out the top 5 ways to scare the socks off your kids with campfire ghost stories!
5 Tips For Telling Spine-Tingling Campfire Ghost Stories
1. Speak Slowly, and Keep Your Story Grounded in Reality
Just like any horrifying campfire ghost story, it should be based in the world in which we live. Think about it. Practically every horror movie that’s based on true events is almost always scarier than movies that are blatantly fictional (save for Gremlins; I love Gremlins!).
Realism, in every sense, goes a long way, and your scared-to-death-children will thank you for it, as their terror-addled bodies leap into bed with mom and dad for the next month!
Adopt some of that “Vincent Price” gravitas as well. Speak slowly, and be dramatic. Your kids will be on the edge of their seats during the entire horror show.
2. Try To Sound Like The Events in The Story JUST Happened
To make your campfire ghost story truly freaky, ground the narrative in the absolute present. Even better: make your campfire ghost story happen right where you sit.
Create the illusion that you heard from the camp ranger, who heard it from the last tenants of your campsite, that something terrifying happened very recently on the very earth you sit. Chilling, right?
Going the opposite route — positioning the narrative in the distant past — just doesn’t instill that sense of urgency required of a great campfire ghost story.
3. Describe The Beats of Your Ghost Story in Great Detail
In storytelling, a beat is the smallest, most minute detail; but it’s something that weaves the story together, and usually in a dramatic way.
The most efficient way of going about telling your blood-curdling campfire ghost story is to pre-meditate both the key scenes and the beats.
And, since this is a campfire ghost story, your beats should consist of the scariest details you can think of.
“Lisa followed the sound of footsteps up the old, creaky steps to the attic. It was dark and silent. The hallway leading up to the door was narrow, and the air — suffocating.
It was so suffocating, in fact, that Lisa thought she might choke. She reached the door and slowly pushed it open. The air was moth-eaten and reeked of dust.
It hadn’t looked like anyone had been up here for ages, and she envisioned children in 1920s attire playing with the old porcelain dolls that are scattered about.
She moved about the room. The only shred of light was lightning that flashed scarcely. A figure — a shadow — moved in the distance. She stopped in her tracks.
Her heart beat rapidly, and she breathed heavily. The figured appeared and ran at her, wailing and shrieking. Lisa screamed and ran, but she couldn’t escape the terror of the attic.”
Let’s examine the beats: “creaky old steps,” “old porcelain dolls scattered about,” “A figure — a shadow,” “The figure ran at her, wailing and shrieking”.
If you can nail the beats within scenes, it will really bring colour and life to your scary campfire ghost story!
And, as a side note, don’t forget the snacks! It always helps to have some awesome campfire cravings to munch on. Check out these creative hot dog ideas!
4. Deliver The Ghost Story As If It’s a Genuine Warning
Nothing creates that sense of urgency than delivering your story in such a way to suggest that what you’re offering isn’t just a scary campfire ghost story, but a warning.
And make it seem like your campfire ghost story about something nearby, namely: at the campsite!
What I mean by this is: say your campfire story is about a ghost that haunts the beach at night.
Your story should involve something horrible happening at said beach, and you’re delivering to your freaked-out kids a genuine warning to stay off the beach at night, or the ghost will attack… again.
5. End The Story When The Ghost Interaction Comes To a Halt
Think of your scary ghost story as a real narrative, with an arc, a climax and an ending. So, you have your story laid out, you have the conflict (the story arc), you have the climax (the protagonist’s confrontation with the antagonist), and, finally, you have your ending (the resolution).
And, more often than not, the ending happens after the protagonist defeats the antagonist.
In the case of your scary campfire ghost story, it’s when the ghost is confronted by your hero or heroin, and either the ghost receives what it wants, or the hero/heroine receives what he/she wants. Either way, the story needs a solid ending.
Let Your Horror Story Begin With BookYourSite.Com!
Now that you have the foundational storytelling knowledge, I just know you’re aching to tell your scary campfire ghost story!
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