Many of you who know good ol' Xelrog, know that he is not an angry man. However, I, like many, can't help but facepalm when I see a pasta with such cringeworthy mistakes—most of them, mistakes too bad to just be the result of inexperience in writing. And boy oh boy, do I see plenty such pastas on a daily basis. Most of them fall flat on their faces come rule 1. For the rare few that get past that, there's usually a hiccup somewhere else down the line that hurts the author and his or her creepypasta. And so, here's a prioritized (that's important) list on how to write a good creepypasta... and more importantly, how NOT to.

Rule One

Take the time to type well. Proofread. Use an automated spell-check if you absolutely must. If you must, proofread it again afterwards.

This wasn't originally planned to be the #1 rule, but I realize that 99% of the time, this is the reason a creepypasta is not creepy or in any way involving to the reader (ie, me). More importantly, it's such a simple thing, and yet it's one that nobody seems to follow. People have gotten it into their heads that typography doesn't matter on the internet. Coincidentally, instances of misunderstandings, harassment, and generally unpleasant behavior are much higher on the internet than they are in person. See the correlation? Grammar exists for a reason, and that is to clearly and accurately express the idea, tone, and intent of what you are trying to convey. All of these things are important in day-to-day conversation. They're even more important when you're putting a piece of writing out into the world for critique.

Worst of all is that basic writing skills are nothing advanced. You don't need to go to college for them. You don't even need to go to high school. If you've been through elementary school, you know to put a period at the end of your sentences. You know to capitalize the start of new sentences. You know the difference between "there," "their," and "they're" if you just put in the effort to think about these things while writing. "I'm 13 and new to creepypastas" is no excuse for not using the knowledge you've had since you were 8, nor is it a scapegoat. Please, for the sake of the future of the human race, get it out of your head that typography doesn't matter. USE what you've learned so that you don't lose it. "Take five seconds to remember basic grammar, you moronic piece of..." well, you get the picture.

Sage words indeed.

Rule Two

Be original. Be unique. Be inventive. Be a first.

Now that we've got the very basics of writing out of the way, let's get to the basics of creepypastas. The single most important aspect of your writing is... uniquity. Has it been done before? This can be a tricky one, because it requires either some previous knowledge and participation in the creepypasta community, or research. Truthfully, this applies to all forms of writing, from television to novels, but since creepypastas are part of the horror genre, that's the one that chiefly needs to be observed here. If something has been done before, or something similar has been done, don't fret—it's okay to be second, or even third. There aren't enough firsts in the world for every creepypasta to be totally unique and original. Just don't be fiftieth. And if you do find a story that's very similar to yours, go that extra mile to make it stand out. Tweak it so that there's at least some small piece of it that's new to the audience, or give it a fresh new tone and character that wasn't present in the other version. Clichés also fall into this category as things that are unoriginal and overused, in a smaller package (not necessarily a whole plot concept). There's probably a whole big list of them somewhere. If not, expect one.

And, going off that...

Rule Three

Be humble.

No one wants to read another zombie apocalypse story where you and your friends fight off hordes of the undead with nothing but your dad's shotgun and a hatchet, and no one wants to hear about how you're such a badass serial killer that you beat up Jeff or Slenderman. And, for the love of god, NO ONE wants to hear about Shade the Hedgehog or Fallen Sky, Ponyville's darkest and most brooding pegasus. Bottom line? Avoiding writing about yourself. Self-insertation is one of the tackiest moves that can be made in creepypastas, and one that young writers are especially prone to making. I'm not going to be an ass and say you're not special. Just don't act it, because it's sending the message that you think everyone else isn't. Be humble. There's a reason those stories about Shade the Hedgehog, most powerful and badass of furries, don't make it to Suggested Reading or Creepypasta of the Month.

Rule Four

Avoid blood for the sake of blood, vulgarities for the sake of vulgarities, or really, anything for the sake of itself.

Most classify this under "clichés." I think these, specifically, are a much bigger problem than just clichés. The community is really adamant about this one, and I have to be as well: Blood and gore do not automatically make a story scary. Talking like you have Tourette's does not automatically make a story realistic. Let's talk about the former first. Blood and gore. It's not an issue of people being squeamish, because I can absolutely guarantee you that such is not the case for our morbid little community. "Gore porn," or the excessive and over-the-top description of gory imagery, is so overused that, upon seeing it, most will automatically lessen their opinion of a pasta on the spot. I'm not going to say that blood and gore are inherently un-scary. If you went outside to find a red sky with blood all over your front lawn, well, we'd all probably be a bit creeped out. Obviously some people find them scary. That's why they're used. But, like jump scares, there's no real talent to using them. Any monkey can throw blood and guts into a pasta, and when it happens as often as it does, for as long as it has, it just makes readers cringe with how overdone it is, and too often it's relied upon as the sole source of "creepiness" in a pasta making it a veritable duplicate of existing pastas, like Sonic.exe.

Next, the language. I don't personally believe in the existence of "swear words." Words are words, all equal in the eyes of the English language. That said, ANY word that's heavily overused (notice the theme here?) starts to sound incredibly tacky and stupid, and it makes the author sound as if he or she has no vocabulary at all. You fuckin' tell me this fuckin' sentence doesn't fuckin' sound like the dumbest fuckin' thing you've fuckin' read in your whole fuckin' life, you fuckin' fucker. And what about this one and overuse and the word "and" and professional writing and proper flow and sounding dumb and and and? Those are exaggerated, of course, but it really does sound just as stupid when you hear "fuck," "shit," "goddamn," or any other word in the English language no less than twice a sentence. Yes, there are people who talk like that. Especially when they're scared. But they're no one that readers are going to want to identify with because, to use their terminology, they sound "goddamn fucking retarded." Do you want your readers to be goddamn fucking retarded?

Bottom line: Use something sparingly, and it will have more impact. Have some taste.

Rule Five

Take your time. Build your story. Create atmosphere.

Finally, the last important rule to a good creepypasta is to not rush in. The key word in "creepypasta" is "creepy." In order to pull off "creepy," you have to first give the reader a sense of security and normalcy, and then slowly take that away. The first step is vital, and one that is often overlooked. In order for your readers to feel sorry for a character, they must first sympathize with that character. They have to CARE about that character. Before your readers can get that feeling of "things aren't quite right," they have to have experienced what IS "quite right" in the context of your setting. All of this really falls under the basic premise of writing: Establish your setting and characters before anything else. For example, if Jeff's backstory were never told, and he was just some crazy-looking guy going around stabbing people, well, that wouldn't be very scary, would it? All that pasta would really amount to is a list of victims. Not much of a story at all. The key is build-up. Take your time to create a setting your readers can immerse themselves in and characters who the readers will identify with, and then slowly take their feeling of security away until the big finish. And don't rush the finish, either. A reader's immersion is always an ongoing process. If the killer suddenly pops out after just a little suspense, the reader's suspension of disbelief hasn't had time to completely dissipate yet. A pasta doesn't even have to be long to successfully pull off that sense of build-up... though, granted, no pasta worth its salt should be less than at least one page. There is a minimum standard in effect for successful build-up.

Finally, adding on to this last note, know what's creepy and what isn't. This can take some time, and isn't entirely objective. In fact, it's not objective at all. People find different things creepy, that others often don't. Use that to your advantage. It's good to know what you find creepy and play off that, but better to know what others find creepy and use that to your advantage. Incorporate multiple people's fears and disturbances into your pasta. Diversify your creepy portfolio. Have fun with it. And don't pay too much mind to those "Dude, that's not scary at all, what's wrong with you?" commenters. We'll talk about them in the next entry: Reading.

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