There's an urban legend saying that the famous "For sale, Baby shoes, Never worn" story by Ernest Hemingway came from a $10 bet. Supposedly, he made it during lunch with some other writers to prove that he could create a scary story in just six words. After penning the famous line on a napkin, he passed it around the table and pocketed his winnings. At least that's the popular version. Whether it's true or not, the average person is no Hemingway, so we need a few more words to scribble a captivating horror story. And a subreddit called r/TwoSentenceHorror seems to have found the perfect limit. Two sentence stories. It's still short, so readers get through the submissions really fast, yet it's vague enough to give the writers space to work with. It turns out, quite a few Internet users have dark thoughts and the ability to express them. That or Stephen King made a lot of Reddit accounts.
And since we've mentioned Stephen King, the master of creepy stories believes there are three types of terror: "The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it's when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it's when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And the last and worst one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It's when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there's nothing there...”
A Pop-Up Horror
To be effective in all of these real horror fields, an author, according to R.L. Stine, has to get inside their narrator's head. If we're seeing through the eyes of a character in a scary situation, we start to feel like we are in a scary situation. "There’s no formula," he told AdWeek. "I think you have to create a very close point of view. You have to be in the eyes of the narrator. Everything that happens, all the smells, all the sounds; then your reader starts to identify with that character and that’s what makes something really scary."