Fear Itself

19 10 2007


On the outskirts of every agony sits some observant fellow who points. ~Virginia Woolf

Fear is the mother of morality. ~Nietzsche

This week, my students are conducting research on scary stories. We were writing personal narratives, but they were getting stale and boring, so I decided to spice things up a bit with an internet scavenger hunt about various “scary” people like the real Dracula (Vlad the Impaler), Bloody Mary, and some scary story writers that the students are a bit more familiar with. Today, they’re watching Rear Window. I decided to introduce them to the classics, since they believe that in order for a movie to be scary, it must be full of blood, exposed bone marrow, and chopped up women. So we’re studying the trajectory of scary stories… where do they come from? what are the conventions of a scary story? what kinds of scary stories are there? how do writers build suspense? what signals can we give to reader to let them know that something bad is about to happen?

This approach to getting the kids involved in the research that all real writers do has been a lot of fun. I won’t know how successful it has been until we actually begin writing. If anyone has any ideas or materials to suggest for this unit, I would appreciate it.




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