How to Be A Campfire Horror Story Hero

Ghost stories around the campfire may be a cliché, but you can do it right with these tips from horror writer CM Saunders.

18 sinister camping

Find Their Fear And Prey On It
“What one person is afraid of might not bother the next,” says Saunders. “However, everyone is scared of something. Certain emotions—like anxiety and creeping unease—are contagious, so chances are if you manage to freak one or two people out, those feelings will spread.”

Keep it Horribly, Nastily Real
“Most people find real-life much more horrifying than anything you can make up, so the first rule is to make your tale believable and anchor it to a familiar, preferably local location,” says Saunders. “Is there a prison nearby? A psychiatric hospital? A castle or a medical research facility? All these things are ripe for riffing off of.”

Avoid Silly Movie Clichés
“Anything too tacky, along with the usual horror tropes: Werewolves, glittery vampires, rampaging zombie hordes, etc.,” warns Saunders. “Interestingly, a recent YouGov poll revealed that one in three Brits believed in the paranormal. Just facilitate this—to paraphrase a popular slogan from The X-Files: They WANT to believe.

Gently Turn Up the Dial To ‘Pure Evil’
“Serial killers are monsters that live among us and are very real,” says Saunders. “Mysterious disappearances are another hot topic. When you’re giving your spiel,
be deliberately vague and avoid giving too much detail—this will not only give your tale an air of realism, it will also allow your audience to fill in the gaps for themselves. What might have happened to poor Shelley when she went to collect the firewood…”

You can buy X3, Saunders’ third collection of short horror fiction here