The Creepypasta business is an unforgiving one. It's not something you can just get into. You have to work your way up.
This section is your aid in writing a creepy, mysterious, and successful pasta.
This website is mainly for gaming pastas, so I'll mainly focus on that.
People usually start to write pastas because they become very interested when they read other peoples pastas. Creepypastas about gaming usually vary between pastas, but these are the most common mistakes made when writing pastas.
MISTAKE #1: GAME CHOICE
The Number One thing that makes me face-palm when I read gaming creepypastas, is the game choice.
Its a common misconception that you can make a pasta out of any game. This is untrue. You can't just pick a game off of the shelf and try to make it creepy. You have to put some thought into it.
The best kind of game for a pasta, is an aged one. If you haven't noticed, the most successful pastas aren't about games such as Pokemon Diamond or Call of Duty. Most of them feature classic video games; such as Majora's Mask, Pokemon RGB or SGC, Early Elder Scrolls games, mostly games that evoke a feeling of nostalgia. Nostalgia is a key factor to making gaming pastas all the more horrifying. It creates a connection to the player that no modern game could. If you take their childhood memories, and corrupt them, it makes them all the more interested, and they can't get over it. All in all, don't just make a pasta about a game because it's your favorite. Pick one because it feels right.
MISTAKE #2: PASTA FEEL
Another fairly common mistake is the feel of the pasta. Let's just say you pick a game, I dunno, Doom 2. You're not going to go all blood, guts, and gore because its already gory. If your game is already gory, go with a more cryptic feel, or a more sad approach. If you pick a game like Half-Life, you're not going to say something like:
"I saw Gordon Freeman hanging from the ceiling of the train station."
That isn't scary because the game is already graphic like that. The concept of a hanging body in a game like Half-Life isn't new. It's not fresh enough of a concept to keep the reader interested and scared. It makes them think "Psssh, whatever. There's a hanging body near the beginning of Ravenholm! Nothing special."
MISTAKE #3: SUBJECT MATTER
This may seem obvious, but a lot of people get it wrong. I see a lot of pastas where the story is taking a random character and making them creepy. Examples would be: "Half-Life: Alyx's Secret", "Super Mario: What Luigi Did", or "Legend of Zelda: Zelda's Tortured Past". Those weren't real pastas but you get the picture. Better territories to explore, are characters or events that exhibited a feeling of mystery and wonder when being played. A perfect example is the Vermillion City Construction Project, which can be read here. You probably wondered when you were a kid why the Old Man and the Machop were stomping that ground in Vermillion City. Besides the Old Man saying they were flattening the ground for a big construction project, you really don't get any more information. That's when the Pasta writer steps in. Your job is to fill those gaps with something that makes sense, but still creeps you out.
Extra Tips: Bootleg game pastas are getting old, but I don't believe it's dead yet. If you can find a way to make it work, write your heart out. Another thing to note, the whole I got this cartridge from a creepy old man/eBay/amazon/found it at my doorstep thing is stale and only worked the for the first couple of pastas that used that.
MISTAKE #4: BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL
Breaking the fourth wall is a goal that a lot of game developers want to reach. Breaking the fourth wall is when a character from a video game interacts with YOU. Not you as in your character. Not you as in, characters referring to you by the name you typed in. They interact with YOU and talk to YOU.
This happens TOO FREAKING MUCH. It worked in such pastas as BEN Drowned, and Sonic.exe, but the concept is getting stale. If you're going to have your pasta break the fourth wall, make sure it works, and try not to make it a main part of your story.
If you really plan on having your pasta break the fourth wall, don't shove it down the readers' throats by making a picture of your family or something else of that nature appear in the game. That's just corny, and it throws believiability out the window.
That's all I got for now. If any other users want to edit this or add anything, feel free.
MISTAKE #5: EXCESSIVE VIOLENCE
"Wow! Making a creepypasta with gallons of blood everywhere really makes it scary!"
No. Let's be honest, blood and gore isn't THAT scary. Beyond the shock of a game that shouldn't have blood and gore plastered everywhere having it, there's not that much to it. Of course, there are pastas that are very violent in this way and are scary, but this doesn't mean gore automatically ups the creepiness factor.
Instead, try using psychological horror (like Silent Hill) or otherwise more subtle ways of scaring your reader rather than just simply saying something poorly written and conceived like this:
"I went up to Pikachu and his sprite was mutilated horribly. His intestines were coming out of his eyeballs and he started spinning like a helicopter spraying blood, vomit, and brain matter all over the room, which was also bleeding. I was so scared I shut off the game and vowed not to play a Pokémon game ever again even though this was probably a one-time incedent and I don't realise i'm using every cliché possible throughout this story"
TL,DR: Use blood and gore in moderation.
MISTAKE #6: SHOCK VALUE
People often try to incorporate twists and surprises into their stories. However, this only works when something is genuinely shocking to the reader. If you've spent the whole story building up how violent and dangerous something is, then having it "suddenly" harm the main character, or even those around them, doesn't come as a surprise...because the reader already knows that it's dangerous. A dangerous thing causing harm is the expected action. Don't try to make something like that a big reveal. You can't reveal something that was never hidden.
As you tell the story, you will build up expectations. To be shocking, you have to defy those expectations. That means, know what you want the reveal to be, and actively work to make the reader expect something else.
- Plan to have a character break the fourth wall? If you want this to be a surprise, then you have to convince the reader to genuinely believe that they can't.
- He was dead all along? Never, not even once, say he's a ghost. Don't have him do anything obviously impossible for a human being. Have him concerned with living problems. Have them describe doing things in a normal way.
- Is the narrator also the killer? If you are going to do it, they should seem deeply concerned for the victims. They should criticize how horrible the news reports are, or seem to be sickened by the acts...right up until you find out that they're really appalled that the reporter missed the subtle touches they put so much work into, or they're disgusted by how sloppy the last kill was, and resolve to do a much cleaner job next time.
Bottom line, it's not a twist if they're expecting it. It's not a twist if they have no expectations. It's only a twist if they expect something else. So, first of all, build your story slowly, and build up patterns where someone does something, and something happens every time. At least, until the time when it doesn't. Take your time, and choose your words carefully. Use detailed, carefully worded descriptions. "I saw an animal" doesn't make what animal it was a surprise, but, "I saw some strange creature, it had big feet, grey skin, and a big funny-looking nose" probably makes you think of an elephant...so it would be a surprise if I said I was describing a hippo, and even more if I revealed that it was a crocodile, and the narrator is colourblind.
Addendum; With experience comes greater understanding. With understanding comes the ability to recognize one's mistakes. I have edited some of the above to reflect a realization that what is obvious to me, may not be to others, and that some of my advice was, while not completely, at least partially wrong.
Simply setting up a false expectation is indeed important to a good twist. However, done poorly, it creates another potential pitfall. Build up the false expectation too well, and the twist ending will feel out of place and nonsensical. To combat this, there are two major techniques. The first is the double-meaning. You'll see that one in the examples above, where a clue seems to point at one thing, but has a second, less obvious interpertation...which becomes obvious once you see the twist. The second technique is downplaying. This is where the clues to the real ending exist throughout the story, but are presented in a way that makes them seem unimportant, while drawing the reader's focus to unimportant details, which seem to be hinting at something, but that something isn't there.
MISTAKE #7: NARRATIVE STRUCTURE
If you "and then" more than once in a paragraph, carefully reconsider the way you're telling your story. If you use it more than three times in two, carefully reconsider how you're telling the story. If it's your most frequently used transition, REWRITE THE DAMN STORY. Note that "and then"-ing doesn't necessarliy mean just using those words, but rather a way of writing in which one sentence less flows into another than lists off a series of actions. This can also be called "play by play" writing. Compare the following; "I picked my coat up off the table. Then I put it on. There was some dust on the coat so I brushed it off." and "I picked my coat up off the table, noting the dust on it. When was the last time I'd worn the thing? It didn't matter, I put it on anyway, brushing the dust off my shouldes and giving it a quick shake for the rest."...notice how even though both describe the same action, and both are just three sentences, the first comes off as terse and somewhat stilted, while the second flows more naturally and conveys information not only about the scene, but also the mindset of person in it. That's the difference between if you "and then" and if you don't.
People have a tendency to tell a creepypasta the way you would tell someone what you did after school. That's a mistake. You're telling a story, not making a play-by-play. Adjust your style accordingly. When you're matter-of-fact about things, it makes them seem less important, and in a horror story, everything should feel important. You need to avoid making your story just, "Something was there and then something happened, I did a thing and then..." USE SOME BLOODY DETAIL!!!! You want people to be interested in your story. That means make it interesting. Make it tense. Don't just say someone saw something and reacted to it, make descriptions cinematic. Slowly reveal things, detail how the character's reactions unfold every step of the way. Write in slow-motion.
As a rule of thumb, never describe in one line what you can describe in three, and never describe in three lines what you can devote an entire paragraph to. Yes, there are things that can be glossed over - you don't need a full description every time that the character goes to the bathroom - but if something relevant is happening, don't rush through it. Take your time to make every aspect of that scene stand out, and show that it's important by giving it the time and respect that it deserves. ESPECIALLY describe the character's reactions. Instead of naming emotions, imagine that the reader has no idea what those feelings are. Describe the symptoms of an emotion, one or two sensations at a time.
Does their heart beat faster?
Do their muscles freeze?
Do they feel a compulsion to be somewhere or do something?
DESCRIBE THAT! You don't have to go through the whole list of everything that they could be going through every time, and you don't have to describe the thing they're looking at completely, but the FIRST time it comes up, do at least ONE of these, and if you only do one DO IT ALL THE WAY. Even something that isn't scary or creepy at all can be made that way if you take the time to describe it in a way that makes it sound like you should be terrified by it, and even the most terrifying thing in the world is ruined if you're too matter-of-fact. Which brings up another point. DON'T. MAKE. EVIL. FAMILIAR. Especially don't call it a demon, Satan, some creature from the Cthullu mythos, or a popular mythical creature. If you know what it is, that automatically makes your job harder. Things we recognize have expectations, and your pasta can be ruined by not meeting them. Further, they tend to have limits, and that means that you've written yourself into the corner of either accepting the limits and weakening the tension by people knowing what "The Evil" can and can't do, or defying the lore and having to convince people to accept your version over what they know. IF YOU NEED A GUIDE LIKE THIS, YOU SHOULD AVOID THAT SITUATION.
Basics Part 2.
Some basic tips to remember when writing your Creepypasta.
TIP #1 FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, FORMAT THE PAGE PROPERLY.
You've been writing your Creepypasta all night. You put your heart and soul into the story and though slightly biased, you think it's the Holy Grail of Creepypastas. You create your page and post your pasta, only to find out that nobody is reading it. 'Did I do a bad job writing the story?' You think to yourself.
Chances are that it isn't the story keeping people away, (Although it very well could be.) but rather the formatting of the page. Nobody wants to stare at one massively long block o' text. It's hard to keep track of what line we're on, gives us headaches and puts hyperrealistic tears into our hyperrealistic eyes. (If you want an example of a Creepypasta that would be absolutely DREADFUL without paragraphs, read Never Stop Running.)
Other rules include:
- Keeping the text white. Other colors, ESPECIALLY blue and related colors, are very hard to see against the slate colored background. Nobody wants to have to squint at their computer screen just to get words to appear. Keep it #FFFFFF.
- Too many headings breaks up the flow of the story. A couple of headings are alright, but instead of using headings to seperate parts of the story, use paragraphs.
- If you aren't using a placeholder, e.g. adding a photo and/or video to the page, delete it off of the page. It will make your Creepypasta feel much less cluttered, and if people see that you took the time to make the page look decent, they'll assume that you took the time to make the story decent, even if that is absolutely not the case. (Plus, if you don't, we take it as permission to put "corrective" entries in the placeholders. ~Kefke)
TIP #2 BASIC GRAMMAR MAKES YOUR STORY LEGIBLE.
After you've made your page so that other people can see the words, you have to make sure that people know what the words are trying to say. It kills me that this has to be brought up at all, but shockingly, some people forget to include punctuation and capitalization in their stories.
- Every word that starts a sentence is capitalized. Names too.
- Every sentence ends with one of these - .?!
- Punctuation is supposed to have a space after it.
- 99% of the time, sentence fragments (sentences that do not contain a complete thought) should be left out of your story or turned into a complete thought. Stories with incomplete thoughts are hard to follow. Noun + Verb (Almost) always = Sentence.
- Maintain a consistent narrator. Constantly switching from first person to third person is also very hard to follow.
TIP #3 FIND/CREATE SOMETHING THAT WILL SET YOUR STORY APART.
There are many different ways that a story can be original and just as many ways they can be cliche. The only limit to originality is your imagination. Find something you can change or add that will make your story stick out.
Some ideas include:
- Writing in a previously unused format.
- Adding pictures and/or video to explain part of the Creepypasta.
- Writing a series of linked Creepypastas.
And so on.
Hopefully, by using some of these tips and avoiding some of these mistakes, we can improve the quality of incoming stories, if ever so slightly.
Other Helpful Tips
TIP #1 RECOGNIZE THE READER IS MOST LIKELY NOT IN THE PASTA
Seriously, you need to remember that the media is reading the pasta, not experiencing what the characters are. Although half of the Creepypasta readers out there would probably crap their pants as much as the characters, they are not in the story, so this makes several things ineffective to make your story creepy. Blood is a very good example of this. Unless if it is in good detail (NOT LITERALLY!!!) and used correctly, it's only going to do the opposite. So make sure that your creepypasta is reader-scareable, and not just for those who would be in the pasta.
TIP #2 HAVE A SOLID LINE BETWEEN EXCESSIVE BLOOD, AND NOT EXCESSIVE BLOOD
This is simple logic: If it goes beyond the line, then your pasta is about 10x worse, if not, then chances are you are making a decent pasta. This is my line for an example:
1. If the ratio between the word blood and any other word is 1:25, then it is excessive.
2. If blood is in all caps anywhere, then it is excessive (don't bother doing something like BlOOD or BLOOd, that's just stupid).
3. If the word "realistic" is used in conjunction with blood. (There are exceptions, but they require detailed descriptions. Never use "realistic" as the sole descriptor for anything. ~Kefke)
Just so long as you don't go beyond the line, your pasta is most likely not a trollpasta.
TIP #3 ADD SUSPENSEFUL MOMENTS
People will think your pasta is a lot scarier if you add a couple points where things are just plain awkward and adds to the suspense, because when you are writing a pasta, suspense = dread, and dread = fear. Here is an example between if it is good or bad:
Bad example- "I turned off the freakishly haunted game to hear a creak from my door. I turned to find a half-clothed man covered in BLOOD! He charged at me with his large bloody claws and almost killed me."
That is seriously what a trollpasta is most of the time, simply not scary becuase it builds no dread.
Good example- "I slowly turned off the odd game, that I wished I never retrieved, to hear a groan from my door. I slowly turned to find a man in a hood. He was just staring at me. My heart was pounding. I didn't know how he got there, or his intentions. We stared for what seemed to be an eternity, and then he slowly walked away, leaving behind only his muddy footprints."
Having something mysterious and suspensful will increase dread, which is something you should aim for in writing a pasta. Comparing the two, it is obvious the second one is much scarier.
For an example of what to avoid adding in a pasta, read this.
TIP #4 "YOUR NEXT" WILL USUSALLY NOT WORK
Anyone catch that, there's an error. First off many, many pastas have an ending where it assumes that the main character is killed and that the reader is next. "Your next" doesn't work becasue "your" is possesive, meaning that the reader would own "next." That's just plain wrong. You're, on the other hand, is correct. It is the contraction for you are, meaning that "you are next." You're next is also a major copout. If you have an ending, either wrap everything up, or make it suspensful. In both cases some room should be left for questioning though. Look at Funnymouth, I could be the next victim, but I have to think it out to assume that I could be the next victim. Imagine if it ended "I looked in the mirror with my funnymouth, say you and said 'You're next' " No, just no. Try to make a new kind of ending, or go for something that could be a pseudo-mindf***.
TIP #5 Be Original
No one likes a Copy Cat. Don't be that guy/girl. If you're going to write a creepypasta, (this also applies for any type of story you write) make sure it's fresh, and you came up with it. If you want to make the next "big creepypasta", I suggest making sure that YOU wrote it.
Tips for Pokémon Creepypasta
For Auron's list of tips and tricks to making a writhing pasta probably made with Ditto goo, Refer to this page.
For Fatty7's tips on writing creepypasta in general, refer to this page.