Building a literary foundation: Scary short stories

When you are trying to get a footing in the literary world, either as a reader or writer, it is very important to create a literary foundation. In future blog posts I will be trying to help anybody stumbling across my writing to create their own literary foundation.

There are certain things that occur in different genres over and over again. Modern writers create new twists on what has come before.

For example, if a character in a sci-fi/horror TV programme features a character called Cassandra or Cassie you can take a possible guess at what will happen in to them in the course of the episode or series. The character, most probably, will be modelled after the character of the same name from Ancient Greek myth.

In an episode of Joss Whedon’s ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, a young girl called Cassie does predict her own death. Despite the regular casts best efforts to save her, the girl still dies at the end of the episode as she predicted when it first began.

In an episode of Red Dwarf a character called Cassandra tries to manipulate the actions of the regular cast in an attempt to get revenge for her own death which has yet to take place.

Reading mythology and folklore gives a firm foundation to anyone wishing to discuss the influences of writers from Shakespeare to Jordan Peele.

When looking at the horror genre a nice place to put a toe in the water is with scary short stories. Not only do you get a quick introduction to some of the most obvious tropes, it can help establish a familiarity with different horror story telling structures.
There is so much we can learn from examining horror short story classics. I have complied a list of short stories in an attachment for you to print off and read at your own pace. Most of the stories are available to download for free somewhere on the internet. Compare them to things that are being written and talked about now and engage in discussions about them. This will help you begin creating a solid literary foundation. Happy Reading.

scary short story list

The grown up – Gillian Flynn
Royal Jelly – Roald Dahl
The monkey paw – W.W. Jacobs  Exploring Literature: The Monkey’s Paw
Philomel Cottage – Agatha Christie
The Veldt – Ray Bradbury
A collapse of Horses – Brian Evenson
The Doll – Daphne Du Maurier
Tales of darkness unknown vol.xiv: the white glove – Steven Milhouser
The turn of the screw – Henry James
The Morning and the evening and the night – Octavia Butler
Reeling for the empire – Karen Russell
The Hand – Guy de Maupassant
Escape from Spiderhead – George Saunders
The Gecko – JB Stamper
Gestella – Susan Palwick
The rocking Horse winner – DH Lawrence
Children of the Corn – Stephen King
Into the wood – Robert Aickmen
Mr Arcularis – Corad Aiken
Branch Line to Benceston – Andrew Caldecott
His Beautiful Hands – Oscar Cook
The Phantom Coach – Amelia B Edwards
The speciality of the house – Stanley Eline
August Heat –WF Harvey
The Tower – Marghanita Laski
The Little girl Eater – MS Waddell
Afterward – Edith Wharton
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Washington Irving
William Wilson – Edger Allan Poe
Carmilla – Sheridan Le fanu
The Striding Place – Gertrude Atherton
The Willows – Algernon Blackwood
The outsider – HP Lovecraft
The pale man – Julius Long
The Minister’s Black Veil – Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Masquerade of the Red Death – Edgar Allen Poe
An occurrence at owl creek Bridge – Ambrose Bierce
The Bottle Imp – Robert Louis Stephenson
Dracula’s Guest – Bram Stoker
The Vampyre – John William Polidori
The call of the Cthulhu – HP Lovecraft
The Bowmen – Arthur Machan
The Tell tale Heart – Edgar allan poe
The semplica – girl diaries – George saunders
The colour of outer space – HP Lovecraft
Ortolan –Dane Hucklebridge
A Hunger Artist – Franz Kafka
The Ones who walk away – Ursula K. Le guin
The Moraine – Simon Bestwick
The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Snow – Dale Bailey
The Jaunt – Stephen King
This is not for you – Gemma Files
The Night Face up – Julio Cortazar
The Wendigo – Algernon Blackwood
The Lair of the white worm – Bram stoker
Edward Randolph’s Portrait – Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Whisper in the Darkness – H.P. Love craft
The body snatcher – Robert Louis Stephenson
The house on the boarder land – William Hope Hodgson
The king in yellow – Robert. W. Chambers
The Damned thing – Ambrose Bierce
The Death of Halpin Frayser – Ambrose Bierce
The Haunted Hotel – Wilkie Collins
The Hound of the Baskervilles – Arthur Conan Doyle
The Black Cat – Edgar Allan Poe
Cwn Garon – L.T.C Rolt
Ringstones – Sarban
Bind Your Hair – Robert Aickman
Thrawn Janet – Robert Louis Stephenson
The Withered arm – Thomas Hardy
Pallinghurst Barrow – Grant Allen
Witch-in-grain – R. Murray Gilchrist
Yellow Nineties – R/ Murray Gilchrist
The Sin Eater – Fiona Macleod
The White People – Arthur Machen
The Black Reaper – Bernard Capes
No man’s land – John Buchan
The temple of death – A.C. Benson
The Ash Tree – M.R. James
The Hole of the pit – Adrian Ross
The Turn of the Sacrifice – Algernon Blackwood
The Temple – E. F. Benson
Morag of the cave – Margery Lawrance
Randall’s Round – Elenor scott
The first Sheaf – H.R. Wakefield
Lisheen – Fredrick Cowles
The Mummy’s Curse – Louisa May Alcott


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