This month’s writing competition is ‘scary stories’ and there are fabulous book prizes to be won including 13 on Halloween and Winnemucca by talented US author, Laura Elliott.

We’ve had some entries in already (feel free to revise and send in an updated version if you wish). For those of you who haven’t written your scary story yet, here are some tips:


Use all your senses 

Building up a spooky atmosphere is all about what your character can see, hear, smell and perhaps taste. Sometimes it’s about what your character can’t see. Your character knows that something or someone is there…but can’t see who or what it is…very tense…can be very scary. Your reader needs to be able to see, hear, feel, taste, smell, sense what’s there. What is the spooky thing your character is about to encounter?

Where is your story set?

As well as using sensory detail to create a scary atmosphere, sometimes the setting alone can be scary…a graveyard…and abandoned house…a dark cellar. Think about where you are setting your scary story.

Use your fears

Make a list of the things that frighten you. For example you might have had an encounter with a snake or a spider. Try to think about how this made you feel and act. This could be how your character reacts in your scary story. Did you shiver, cry, get goosebumps, faint, feel sick? If your character feels fear, your reader will too. Remember a scary nightmare you had. You can use these events and feelings in your story.


At least one of your characters needs to be something or someone that your main character has every reason to fear. When you are developing that scary character think of all the things that might make them scary. These could be things like the way they look, the kind of character they are (eg ghost, zombie), where they come from or how they act.

Starting your story

Start your story with a piece of action, something scary, something to make the reader realise straight away that this is going to be a scary story.

The Plot

In a scary story, you need to place your main character in serious trouble. Then it’s up to you to work out how they get out of it. Think of a scary movie you have seen or a book you have read. How do other creators put their characters in jeapordy? Would the method they have used work for your story?


Use strong verbs – make the characters actions and feelings definite. for example your character might scurry or flee rather than walk.

Particularly when you are at a high suspense part in your story, the use of short sentences with strong words can help build impact.

Good luck with your scary story. Here’s how to enter the competition:



US author, Laura Elliott is our featured author this month and she has kindly agreed to donate e-books of her YA novels Winnemucca and 13 on Halloween. As well as these great prizes there will be other books and  manuscript assessments to win!

In keeping with the theme of Laura’sbooks, this month’s competition is Scary Stories of 500 WORDS OR LESS.


There will be three categories in the competition:

  • 8-12 year olds
  • 13-17 years
  • adults

On your covering email, please advise which category your are entering.


  • Manuscript assessment of your 500 word story plus an additional 500 words.
  • Great books including Laura Elliott’s Winnemucca and Thirteen on Halloween


  • FREE: There is no cost to enter this competition


1.Submit a 500 word scary story you have written.

2.You MUST submit it in this format:

  • 12 point type Arial or Times Roman
  • double spaced (spacing between lines)
  • A4 sized page
  • 3cm margins all the way around your page

3. Submit your entry by email to

4.Please put Scary Story Submission in the subject line of your email. In the subject line please also include your name and the name of your story.

5. Competition opens 1st December and closes 31st December (Australian time)

All works must be unpublished. The judges decision is final.

Happy writing and Good Luck!







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