Fifth graders practice their horror storytelling with visiting author

Man squats down to speak with two students who are sitting at their desks.
Author David Neilsen works with fifth graders in Nicole Penner’s class to develop the components their own horror story.

On October 29, fifth graders at Goshen Intermediate School worked with author David Neilsen to perfect their scary storytelling skills…just in time for Halloween.

Neilsen discussed the horror genre and reviewed the five things needed in a horror story: characters, atmosphere, tension, surprise and a twist. He also reviewed the four main types of horror stories and their components. They are:

The Haunted House

The components of a haunted house story include:

  • A location you can’t escape
  • A flawed individual
  • People being hunted
  • Characters being removed one-by-one
  • Only the pure and innocent survive

The Crazy Psychopath

The components of a crazy psychopath include:

  • A crazy psychopath
  • People to be terrorized/killed
  • A reason why the crazy psychopath is on a rampage
  • Someone who thinks the psychopath is misunderstood and then inevitably killed
  • The death/capture of the psychopath
  • An unexpected twist

The Cursed Thingy

The components of a cursed thingy story include:

  • A cursed thing
  • Someone who finds the cursed thing
  • A warning about the cursed thing
  • The warning is ignored
  • Minorly bad things happen, then seriously bad things happen
  • The destruction of the cursed thing
  • Evidence it was not destroyed

The Monster

The components of a monster story include:

  • A monster
  • A reason the monster has began terrorizing
  • People in danger
  • Someone who doesn’t take the threat seriously
  • Someone who tries to understand the monster
  • Victory of the monster
  • Cost of victory

Students were then given writing prompts and worked together in small groups to come up with their own horror stories. View a video of a small group discussion on Facebook.

According to his website, David Neilsen is the author of Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom, and several other odd, weird, supernatural, and occasionally slightly disturbing books and stories. David is also a professionally trained actor who works as a professional storyteller up and down the Hudson River Valley and in New York City. Visit the website of author David Neilsen.