Tips for Telling Ghost Stories
Whether it's on Halloween night or simply sitting around the campfire, telling ghost stories is an age-old tradition. The idea of course is to tell a story that frightens the listeners in a fun, frightening and entertaining way.
Typically these short stories center around some sort of supernatural or malevolent occurrence or creature such as a haunted house, ghosts, vampires, monsters, crazed killers and the like. And while most ghost stories are pure fiction or urban legends that may or may not have any truth to them, some are the real thing, or at least have some shred of truth to them.
To be good at telling ghost stories you need to keep several things in mind:
Whether you tell a known ghost story, adapt one to your needs or create a completely original story, it should be believable and able to hold the interest of its listeners. Tell important aspects of the story in enough detail so that they can visualize the events taking place, but not so much as to slow down the flow of the story.
Ghost stories are usually told as a though is were a historical event or sometimes as something that is currently taking place. Provide a basic setting that includes the time period of the event, the location where it happened, any fabricated historical facts. Do a little research and find stories that are fairly short and believable.
There are plenty of real or at least possibly real "scary" stories and urban legends out there that you can use. Some would be the "Haunted Railroad Tracks" in San Antonio, Texas, the "Mothman" of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, the "Chupacabra" along the American-Mexican boarder and local "Big Foot", sightings, which are always good for a scare.
If the story centers around a place it should contain vivid details so that listeners can visualize it in their minds and possibly relate to a place they've been to or know about. Stories that revolve around a person or group of people should have characters that are believable. Make the characters real by giving some information about them. Don't do this all at once, but over the course of the story.
Adapt the stories as needed, but most importantly, learn the story by heart. If you sound like you yourself believe the story to be true, everyone else will. If you sound like you are making it up as you go along, no one will believe you. If a story is to long or doesn't get to a scary fairly soon, your listeners will get restless and then bored.
Remember, a scary story doesn't have to be gruesome to frighten people. While many of these stories are bloody and horrific, others are simply creepy and shocking. If one or more people become very scared, tone down the story. If young children are present, keep the stories more on the light hearted side and not too scary. Needless to say, you shouldn't tell extremely scary stories to young children.
A fun game, particularly at a Halloween party where there is a group of people, is for each person to take three minutes to tell part of a story, and then the next person has three minutes to add on to it, and so on.
The most important thing to remember is to have fun! Happy Storytelling!