Anonymous asked: How would you write a letter from the villain in the story? My character receives a letter from him. What should it say? I want it to sound creepy and enthralling…
There are a few ways that you can go about this and it will very much depend on the style of your story and what the style allows for.
When I first heard this question, my mind immediately jumped to this “haunted” writing style. Very creepy and surreal - not so much what’s being said, but how it’s said. Part of accomplishing this effect is getting into that mindset. I’ve found reading in it is very helpful. I recommend We Have Always Lived In the Castle by Shirley Jackson. The first person voice in this is very dark and strange. It tells you that there is something wrong about this character without needing to say it in dialogue. I am obsessed with its opening:
“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.”
Another text I’d recommend that is written in a similar style is The Blindfold by Siri Hustvedt. It is also one of my favorite books of all time. Though the writing style is ominous, for a long time, it’s reminiscent of a lucid dream. Here is an excerpt:
“It was hot that summer and my nights were often sleepless. I lay awake in my two-bedroom apartment on West 109th Street listening to the city’s noises. I would read, write, and smoke into the morning, but on some nights when the heat made me to listless to work, I watched the neighbors from my bed. Through my barred window, across the narrow airshaft, I looked into the apartment opposite mine and saw the two men who lived there wander from one room to another, half dressed in the sultry weather.”
There is nothing malicious in this passage like there was in the last, but for some reason it reads as eerie.
If style is not going to work for your story, you’re going to have to work with content to achieve this effect. The creepiness in my experience comes from not actions in a scene, but the potential for those actions to be taken. It’s a bit of suspense needed along with uncertainty. Here are a few things that might work:
- Reveal a secret. Secrets are a great way to up the creep-factor. Have the villain give away some information that the protagonist doesn’t entirely understand. It’s extra creepy if it sounds like a confession or a threat.
- Expose a guilty conscience. Like the last one, but this one doesn’t have to be so direct. If you can suggest that the villain is guilty of something horrible, especially if no one knows what he did, it’ll make him a lot creepier.