Scary Stories: Exploring the Elements of Suspense

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Updated: Aug 21, 2023
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A horror story is a story full of suspense and eeriness. People love horror stories because they’re unpredictable and full of suspense. Do you like horror stories? I will tell you why horror stories are a very interesting and popular genre of books. The stories we read in this unit were The Landlady, The Tell-Tale Heart, and The Monkey’s Paw. Horror stories have to have settings, characters, and dramatic irony.

Setting as a Source of Suspense

First, the setting causes suspense in a horror story.

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First, the setting in The Landlady is dark and deadly cold. I know this because, in the story, Billy went to a sketchy bed and breakfast in Bath, England. Next, the setting of The Tell-Tale Heart is a house where a younger man helps an old blind man. In the story, the narrator tells us that he isn’t crazy and then ends up killing the old man because of his blind eye. Finally, the setting of The Monkey’s Paw is dark and gloomy. I know this because a man made a wish that accidentally killed his son, then he wished for him to live, which didn’t work. Therefore, the setting has a great impact on horror stories and creating suspense.

Next, characters also add suspense to a horror story. You need characters to write a story or make a movie. Characters are a very important subject when writing a book or making a movie. You can have many kinds of characters, scary characters, stupid characters, and maybe some ghosts or ghouls. In scary stories, there are roles these characters have; for example, scary characters or the bad guys cause trouble, like in The Landlady when the old lady poisoned Billy Weaver, or in The Monkey’s Paw, the paw was considered the bad guy because it was cursed and caused a lot of problems in Mr. White’s life. Then there are stupid characters, the ones who are first to die; for example, Billy Weaver was slow and didn’t realize that the landlady was a creepy old psycho killer. There are also ghosts and ghouls, which give other characters and readers a fright. As a result, this is how characters can cause suspense in a horror story.

Finally, dramatic irony also creates suspense in a horror story. Dramatic irony is when the reader knows something that the character doesn’t; for example, in The Landlady, readers know something bad is going to happen to Billy, but Billy doesn’t think twice about it. There was also dramatic irony in The Tell-Tale Heart when the cops showed up, and the main character went crazy; he thought that the officers knew, but we readers knew he was hallucinating. Dramatic irony is important in most if not all, scary stories; it draws attention to you and makes you wonder what will happen next. As a result, dramatic irony also creates suspense in a horror story.


In conclusion, setting, characters, and dramatic irony are very important in parts of a horror story. I liked The Landlady the most because it was creepy and had dramatic irony, which creates suspense. Now you should know the three most important parts of a horror story. 


  1. “The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain” by Daniel Gardner
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Scary Stories: Exploring the Elements of Suspense. (2023, Aug 17). Retrieved from