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Photo via Story World Central

In October, everyone—even those of you who aren’t horror fans—is tempted to read a creepy novel. Here are five steps to follow when reading a scary story. You’ll be terrified in no time.

1. Don’t watch the movie first. This is the most important step when starting a new horror novel. If you’ve seen the movie, then chances are good that the book won’t frighten you (unless you’re generally a scaredy cat). If you know who is going to die and when, what’s the point of picking up the book? Choose a novel that you haven’t already experienced in movie (or TV) form, or go really wild and choose a book that hasn’t been adapted into something else—that way you can’t even be spoiled by images on the internet.

2. Wait until you’re home alone. Nothing ruins the mood of a horror book more than someone else talking in the background. Wait until your house is completely empty, curl up with a blanket, and start reading. Enjoy the silence—for now. Before you know it, your floorboards will shift or you’ll be startled by the humming of your refrigerator. Plus this way when your cat silently jumps up on the couch behind you, scaring you to near death, you won’t be embarrassed by your high-pitched scream.

3. Start reading at dusk. Being home alone is one thing, but being home alone at night brings things to a new level of scary. Plan to start your reading session when the sun begins to set. Horror novels get scarier as you read further in the story, and the dimming light will reflect that increasingly unsettling mood.

4. Turn off the lights. When the sun sets completely, don’t turn on a lamp. Instead, keep the lights turned off and appreciate the darkness. Grab a flashlight to illuminate the book pages and keep everything else around you a secret. You’ll have no way of seeing what’s waiting for you under the bed…

5. Read it in one sitting. Don’t give yourself time to pull away from the creepy setting of your horror novel. Read your book in one setting so the scary feeling doesn’t fade. You can benefit from reading many kinds of books in one sitting, but horror novels are in a class of their own. Your heart will be pounding as you turn every page, and you’ll be reading faster to finally get to the end of the story.


Maria Vicente's picture

Maria Vicente

Maria Vicente is an Associate Agent at P.S. Literary Agency. She is also the Wicked Witch of the East Coast.