The Haunted Amusement Park

Writing Prompt

You and a friend reexplore an old, abandoned amusement park. Memories of what happened a few years ago resurface, and you witness firsthand the rumour that surround the theme park with a secret of your own.

The Haunted Amusement Park

You felt a frigid chill lick your skin as the sense of familiarity crawled from the depths of your unconscious. You hadn’t wanted to come back as the guilt from way back then manifested itself in the form of dreams and spontaneous thoughts in your mind.

“Please… don’t leave.”

The whisper from that dreadful night was lost amongst the howling of the wind, but it was as though she spoke through a loudspeaker as those words were forever ingrained in the depths of your soul.

“We shouldn’t be here,” you said to the friend a few feet ahead.

Your friend turned and met your nervous countenance with one of sadness and guilt and said reassuringly, “Nothing is going to happen this time. We’ll be extra careful.”

“No,” the word left your lips before you had a chance to stop it. You hadn’t meant to sound as harsh as you did, but you couldn’t hide the growing fear spreading like wildfire inside. You were simply concerned for the safety of your friend and yourself.

“We’ll be in and out. I promise.”

You watched your friend smile at you and disappear behind the iron gates of the eerily quiet amusement park. Rumours of this strange and abandoned carnival had been the talk of the town as sightings of deceased children and adults had been reported to be still wandering the premises and enjoying its festivities.

That alone had ignited a spark of curiosity in you and your friends at the time, and what started as a bit of teenage fun ended in horrific tragedy.

You slipped through the gates and called for your friend’s name, but there was no response. When you felt the familiar chill, you folded your arms and ran deeper into the carnival.

The murmurs and whispers you heard were all reminiscent of that night, but you trod on as the farther you entered the more you began to believe that facing your guilt and fears would provide some closure.

You saw your friend standing in front of a dark rollercoaster, its seats extremely tattered and safety bars in its upward position.

Your eyes closed for a brief moment, but it only took that moment for it to all come rushing back.

“Rock…”
“Paper…”
“SCISSORS!”

There was laughter, squeals, and low hoots as the winners nudged the losers closer and closer to the eerie roller coaster.

“You promised! Losers have to do it,” one said.

“Are you chickening out?” another one chimed in.

“I’m not,” a girl said annoyingly.

Her male counterpart had already begun approaching the ride. He hopped over the few obstacles in his way and stared for a few seconds at the ripped seats.

“Five seconds,” he said, then turned to his friends, “Right?”

“I don’t want to do it,” she said sternly.

“You’ll be fine,” you said. “It’s only five seconds.”

Your friend sighed softly then followed the boy. The two friends looked at each other and took a seat in separate compartments of the ride.
“Pull down the lap bar,” your friend encouraged.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” you said.

“The worst thing that’ll happen is that it’ll break,” another countered.

You heard the loud creak of the safety bars coming down which was followed by a similar sound. Your male friend sat comfortably in his seat, smiling widely at your friends. However, the other looked extremely uncomfortable as her eyes kept wandering and hands rubbing together constantly.

“Okay, five seconds is up,” you said loudly.

“You got the pictures, right?” you heard a friend asked.

“Yeah, I did. I’m posting it to Instagram right now!”

You were the first to sense that something was wrong. The boy had his lap bar up and was about to stand until an ear-splitting groan pierced the still, cold air. Your friends had stopped talking amongst themselves, their amused countenance instantly replaced with one of sheer terror as the wheels spun and spun and spun.

You didn’t know who screamed. Perhaps it was you, but that was the least of your concerns. The ride was eagerly following its designated course on its tracks and increasing in speed at an exponential rate. You felt your blood run cold as you saw the shadow of a falling figure once the rollercoaster followed the large, impending circle.

The ride showed no signs of stopping. A loud, sickening crack rang in your eardrums. You weren’t sure if your friends had heard it but whatever happened was confirmed once the ride came to a full stop in front of the terrified crowd. It was as if the ride hadn’t moved at all.

Her body was beyond repair. There were multiple areas with skin completely ripped from her being, exposing the raw meat that your friend now was. Parts of her bone was exposed with dry and fresh blood trailing its surface. Her eyes had been completely rolled inwards, and her mouth hung open as if she were a vegetable.

It took a moment for you to realize that your male friend was nowhere to be seen.

“W-w-we have to get out of here.”

“Oh my God,” you heard another whisper loudly.

You felt the strong, adamant pull on your arm, but your feet stayed rooted to the spot. The image of your deceased friend was forever burned in your memory as tears came like waterworks from your red eyes.

“Let’s go… WE NEED TO GO.”

Another was screaming for an ambulance.

Your feet had just begun to move alongside your friends but had stopped when you heard a calming whisper.

“Please… don’t leave.”

It had come from behind you, but there was no one behind. No one alive at least.

A familiar tune made your eyes snap open.

Laughter blended conversation and screams polluted your surroundings. You spun around in confusion as adults with children and snacks were walking in all directions. None were paying any attention to you. Your gaze landed on the active rollercoaster, it’s macabre decor exposed by the glowing lights from all directions.

“Please… don’t leave.”

You recognized the male voice.

“Stay…” a familiar female voice chimed in. “Stay… and play my game.”

Eloquent – Etymology

Eloquent

Eloquent is an adjective meaning persuasive speech or writing. It has Latin roots which meant ‘speaking out’ and from the verb eloqui. It’s borrowed from the French word éloquent. When describing someone is eloquent, you’re saying that their way of speaking or writing is impactful.

Someone who is eloquent is powerful in expressing strong emotions or to state factual arguments with fluency. But, eloquent has evolved to mean more than its initial definition.

“Action is eloquence.”  – William Shakespeare

Therefore, you could say that eloquence is someone who invokes a positive emotion in another; someone who is classy; someone who understands a situation and reacts to it appropriately.

Still confused at what eloquent means? Fortunately, the U-Dictionary APP available on both Google Play and the APP Store provides translations instantly.

Tip: U-Dictionary’s instant translation provides bilingual sentences, sample sentences, and cognate words in addition to the simple translation so you can better understand the use of a word.

Eloquent also has a noun form, eloquence, which has the same meaning as its adjective counterpart. Eloquence is developed from the Latin eloquentia.

The peak use of this word was in the 1850s. Since then, it has significantly declined. While not commonly used in casual conversations, it more often appears in writing prose.

Sample Sentences

Here are some samples sentences using eloquent.

  1. Her speech was very eloquent for her age.
  2. He looks like a very eloquent person.
  3. Her silence showed her eloquent nature.

Synonyms

Synonyms for the word involve poise, fluency, fervour, and expressiveness.

Antonyms

Some commonly used antonyms for the word are impotence, inability, and incompetence.

Book Recommendation – Battle Royale

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

I was already familiar with the concept of Battle Royale, and I was pleasantly surprised at how the author executed the plot.
 
The plot takes place in a fictional fascist Japan. The government established a military program, the Battle Experiment No. 68. This program randomly selects fifty third-year junior high school students and forces them to kill each other until one student remains.
 
This year, the selected group of students are from Shiroiwa Junior High School. They are dosed with sleeping gas en route on a “field trip.” When they wake, they are in a classroom on a vacated island. Psychopathic sadist, Kinpatsu Sakamochi, tells the students they have three days until one stands as the victor. Or else, the metal collars around their necks will detonate.
 
Armed with a bag of random supplies given to them by the government, each student must come to terms and figure out a way to survive.
 
Battle Royale was first written in Japanese and then translated into English. It had a manga, movie, and theatre adaptation. It was also Takami Koushun’s debut novel after leaving his job as a journalist in 1996.
 

My Thoughts

 
Battle Royale focuses on three characters: Nanahara Shuya (last first), Nakagawa Noriko, and Kawada Shogo. But, it also jumps to different perspectives of other students. Thus, our protagonists may not know how some students died, but the reader does.
“By then she was dead. In fact, she may have been dead a while ago. Physically, several seconds ago, mentally, ages ago.”
– Koushun Takami
If you’ve seen a physical copy of the book, a question you may have thought is why is this so thick? Besides knowing how each student died, the author also sheds light on their background–some more than others–and their relationship with their classmates. By the end, you’ll know the class of Shiroiwa High School inside out.
Battle Royale focuses on camaraderie and emphasizes maintaining bonds and trust for one to succeed, an evident theme in Japanese culture. You could argue that is a reason why the author decides to give each student character depth. To learn, relate, and emphasize with the students brings you a little closer to them. And when they are ruthlessly killed, they vanish before you get a chance to familiarize with them.
Tip: The U-Dictionary APP provides informative and entertaining articles to boost your English reading comprehension and listening skills.
Battle Royale and Hunger Games often are compared to each other as their premise is identical. For those unfamiliar with The Hunger Games, here is a brief breakdown. The Capitol of Panem controls twelve districts by selecting tributes, a boy and girl, from each district to compete in The Hunger Games. It’s a nationally televised show. The tributes will fight to the death until one person remains.
 
Having read both novels, here are my two cents on the differences between the two books. The Hunger Games is glamorous; it carries fantasy elements that appeal to a younger audience. Battle Royale, on the other hand, has a historical background which is explained thoroughly near the end. The Hunger Games also adds a prominent romance; the romance in Battle Royale is very soft-pedalled. If anything, it boils down to cultural differences and its impact on a plot’s execution rather than the plot itself.
 
If you enjoyed The Hunger Games for its premise, I would recommend Battle Royale. In addition to cultural differences, the deaths in Battle Royale are much more graphic than the Hunger Games. Some will make you cringe a little, even more so when you remember they’re junior high kids. There are also mature themes such as attempted rape.
I’ve reread this book twice and will probably do so again in the future.

Book Recommendation – Vicious

Book Recommendation – Vicious by V.E Schwab

Vicious was my first book by V.E Schwab, and I’m glad I picked it up by chance.
 
The plot revolves around Victor and Eli, two brilliant college students. They recognized the same ambition and cleverness in each other. In their senior year, Eli’s thesis topic of near-death experiences and supernatural abilities unveils an intriguing hypothesis. Under specific conditions, someone can develop “extraordinary abilities.” Yet, things go wrong when they shift from academia to the field.
 
Ten years later, Victor has broken out of jail and accompanied by a young girl and another ex-prisoner. Together, they work to find Eli, who developed a twisted mentality. Who will be alive?
Life–the way it really is–is a battle not between Bad and Good, but between Bad and Worse.
–Joseph Brodsky
My Thoughts
A great woven revenge story, Vicious makes the reader question the notion of heroism. There’s no good or bad; only bad or worse. The book jumps from past to present, yet it pushes the plot forward. It gives the reader a better understanding of Victor and Eli’s strained relationship.
 
Eli was the first to test his theory of the supernatural. Through his experiment, he develops supernatural abilities. Thus, he begins to develop a twisted mentality: God gave him a gift which he will use to eradicate all other supernatural beings like himself. Victor, on the other hand, also develops supernatural abilities through albeit questionable methods.
Tip: The U-Dictionary APP provides informative and entertaining articles to boost your reading comprehension and listening skills.
The relationship between Victor and his comrades contrasts against Eli’s camaraderie with his sidekick, an enigmatic woman. You could argue that the reason why the book ended the way it did was due to these bonds in addition to their own intelligence and abilities.
 
The book alternates between Victor and Eli’s point of views, though still written in the third person. Through these different viewpoints, you begin rooting for one or the other. Yet, regardless of who you want to succeed, you come to understand the motives behind their actions. Eventually, it boils down to a battle of wits and pride and arguably no longer about values and beliefs.
 
If you’re looking for a modern-day superhero novel, I strongly recommend Vicious by V.E Schwab. It’s relatable, entertaining, and keeps you hooked page to page. Vicious was Schwab’s first adult novel and is one I will definitely revisit in the future.
(This post is also cross-posted on anniesaurusx.wordpress.com)

The Living Doll

Short Story

This short story was inspired by a creative writing prompt from WritersDigest. Lila stumbles upon an antique store that sells a rare, old doll. She buys it for her younger sister. One afternoon, Lila begins hearing voices.

The Living Doll

Lila was alone in the house.

Her younger sister was at school, and their parents wouldn’t return a month from now from a business trip abroad. Lila’s music was playing softly from her headphones as she finished cleaning the small living room. Perhaps she shouldn’t have procrastinated as much as she did on chores.

It wasn’t until this morning did she notice the dirty dishes piling up in the sink, the thin coat of dust on the furniture and wooden floors, and the mountainous pile of laundry that should have been done last week.

There was a brief pause in her music as her iPod switched to the next song on her playlist. And that was when she heard it: a very faint and childlike giggle.

It was so soft that she shrugged it off, believing to have imagined it. But then it came again… much louder than the first that she swore she heard it as her music played. She pulled off her headphones, letting the cold headband rest against the back of her neck.

Silence.

Lila scoffed softly. Time to lay off the horror movies, she thought. Just as she was about to place her headphones back on, a chill crept down her spine when she heard the muted, raspy call of her name.

“Li… la…”

She spun around. Her lips parted slightly when she noticed the door to her sister’s room was ajar. Lila swore it had been closed and locked when she finished cleaning it a few hours ago.

She pushed open the door and was relieved to find everything still in its proper place: the folded clothes in the white basket waiting to be put away, the blankets neatly folded atop of the bed… the porcelain doll sitting courtly on the nightstand.

The marionette had been a late birthday present from Lila to her sister, and she had gotten it for a great price, too. The owner of the old antique shop she had bought it from had said how much this doll was loved by his late granddaughter, and he needed to find a good owner to take care of it. Lila was not a big fan of dolls, even at a young age. There was something about their eyes that made her anxious. But her sister would love it.

Hand on the handle, Lila was just about to shut the door until she saw movement out of the corner of her eye. A slight raise of a handmade her turn swiftly at the innocuous doll. It was just how she saw it a few seconds ago.

She folded her arms across her chest and walked towards it, her eyes slightly narrowed. Its clear green eyes seemed to be fixed on her light brown ones.

“This is ridiculous,” Lila muttered.

She turned away but a sudden forceful tap on her shoulder made her yelp and spun around in fear. 

She was alone.

“Lila! I’m home!”

A wave of relief washed over her when she heard the call of her younger sister, Ema. Lila came out of the room and greeted her with a smile. “Hey, kiddo! How was school?”

Ema squirmed out of her jacket and replied, “good.”

“Are you hungry? I’ll make something to eat.”

“Yeah! I’m starving!” Ema jumped into a tall, white chair facing the kitchen island. She noticed the door to her room was wide open. “Did you go into my room today?”

Lila took out a frozen cheese pizza from the freezer. “Oh, uh, yeah. I… er thought I heard something.”

“Was it Juno?”

Lila stared at her sister. “Who?”

“Juno… my doll.”

Lila was silent for a moment. Ema had told her multiple times that Juno was talking to her. And Lila had always brushed it off. “Oh… no, I don’t think it was her.”

Ema cocked her head to the side. “Are you sure? Because I talk about you to her. She often says she wants to meet you.”

Lila angrily pushed the pizza into the oven. “Dolls don’t talk, okay? So… be quiet about it.”

“Just because you can’t hear her doesn’t mean she doesn’t talk! I’ll prove to you that she can!”

“Ema!” Lila shouted as her sister jumped off the chair and into her room. “You don’t need to prove anything! I believe you, okay? Just… come back please!”

But Ema emerged with the doll in her hands, and Lila’s brows furrowed as she stared at it more closely. Its eyes were blue, the same colour as her younger sister’s

“Wasn’t… what kind of a doll can change its eye colour?” Lila said quietly.

Ema smiled widely, and as she spoke Lila could hear the voice she heard before merge with hers, “one that is very special… my dear.”

Want More Short Stories?

A short story can help increase your reading comprehension and enhance your vocabulary.

If you’re interested in other stories, U-Dictionary’s Writing Club has entertaining stories that help you with reading comprehension.

Tip: The U-Dictionary APP provides entertaining stories in our Writing Club that enhances your English reading comprehension skills.

The Face Outside and Labyrinth are the two stories we have so far!

The Face Outside

Short Horror Story

This short horror story was inspired by a creative writing prompt by WritersDigest. It tells a story of a girl named Mel who lost her twin sister, May, due to a tragic accident fifteen years ago. One rainy night, her dog, Chivo, began to bark at the window. For what reason?

The Face Outside

“You killed me…”

Mel trembled in her sleep.

“Murderer… murderer…”

A muted gasp left her lips.

“You’ll get what you deserve!”

Her eyes flew open in shock.

Thunder rumbled in the distance as Mel ran her hand through her short, red tresses. She licked her lips, her gaze on the large window that was sprinkled with raindrops. A muted gasp left her lips when she felt a nudge at her feet. And when she glanced down she smiled and ruffled Chivo’s black fur.

The continuous nightmare was entering its fifteenth day, and she was awakened every time by those same words that had been haunting her since her sister’s death fifteen years ago. Mel held her head in her hands, her figure hunched over on the large round chair. She closed her eyes but snapped them open when the image flashed in her mind. The image of her sister’s betrayed countenance drenched in water.

“That’s mine! Give it back!” A child’s voice echoed throughout the empty pool.

“I had it first!”

Two small and identical children wrestled with each other on the pool deck for the doll that was held in the hands of the girl whose back was facing the pool.

“I won’t let you have it!”

With one forceful pull on the doll’s hair, the head snapped off and fell into the water. The girls stopped. May pushed her sister off and reached for the fallen part that was just beyond her grasp. Mel grabbed her sister by the shoulders and pulled her back, but May resisted using both of her hands to fend her sister off.

Driven by anger, Mel pushed her sister into the water, not expecting May to grab onto her shirt and pulling her down with her.

The air was dragged from her lungs, and her eyes blurred as her head entered and re-entered the water, her loud gasps muffled by the incoming waves of water.

The burn enflaming her lungs was her determination to survive. But her consciousness slowly began to fade. Her eyes now glassy, and gradually, she sank lower, her arms no longer having the minimum amount of power to keep her barely afloat. And the last thing she saw was the seemingly lifeless body of her sister drifting into the unconsciousness with her.

A sudden breath of fresh air pulled Mel out of the blackness. Hunched over and desperately coughing up water, she clung to the first thing she could get her tiny hands on, which was her mother’s blouse.

Her mother hushed her, tears flowing down her cheeks. “I shouldn’t have left the two of you alone…”

Mel struggled to her feet, her balance unsteady as her gaze swept the area for her sister. And then she saw her: May’s body on the deck, a stranger desperately trying to save her. Mel scrambled to her, tripping multiple times.

The stranger looked at her and said, “I’m sorry… she’s gone.”

Mel had her favourite cup of English coffee held in her hands, finding comfort in its warmth. She took another sip, attempting to erase her sister’s lifeless countenance from the depths of her mind. But she knew that it would never be possible.

The loud bark of Chivo coming from her bedroom startled her. Mel placed her cup on the counter and went to find her black labrador. Chivo was facing the window, his barks loud and violent-like.

She flipped on the lights. “Shh.” Mel stared at the blind-covered window as she hushed him. When Chivo’s barking failed to cease, Mel attempted to drag him out of the room but the animal refused to move. “I’ll give you a treat okay?”

The barking continued.

Mel placed both hands on either side of her hip and sighed. She looked out the window and slightly cocked her head to the right and approached it with haste. She swiftly opened the blinds and peered outside.

Nothing.

She faced her dog. “See, there’s nothing there.”

Then lightning flashed and thunder roared. And in that split second, she saw the window’s reflection in the large mirror placed on the opposite side of the room. And what she saw made her face turn pale, limbs unable to move.

With wide, glassy eyes, her eight-year-old self-met Mel’s petrified gaze. Her wet and thick black hair clung to her pasty face and the corners of her lips were turned upright into a malevolent grin.

Mel instantly spun around. But the face was gone.

Raindrops trickled down her window as lightning flashed again, the thunder booming in the distance. And all she could hear was the loud spatter of rain and her own racing heartbeat.

Chivo was still facing the window when Mel was brought herself out of her reverie.

“Come on, let’s go,” Mel said breathlessly.

He didn’t move.

Mel was already at the doorway when she snapped, “Chivo!”

He still didn’t move.

Annoyed and agitated, Mel began walking towards him, ignoring the shiver that had suddenly crept down her spine. She reached out to him, her fingers just grazing his fur when his head suddenly snapped around.

And she screamed.

The same glassy stare stared back at her, water forming at the rims of his eyes, and the corners of his mouth turned upright into a sinisterly innocent grin.

What’s mine is yours…

Enjoyed This Short Horror Story?

Short stories are a great way to make learning a language engaging and fun. If you enjoyed this short horror story, let us know! If you’re interested in other stories, U-Dictionary’s Writing Club has entertaining stories that help you with reading comprehension.

Tip: The U-Dictionary APP provides entertaining stories in our Writing Club that enhances your English reading comprehension skills.

If you’re interested in reading other short horror stories, Labyrinth is another one we’ve written.

Ace Your GRE Test With These Resources

What’s The GRE Test?

The GRE test is a graduate admission test for universities to gauge your analytical writing, quantitative reasoning skills, and verbal reasoning. The GRE is similar to the SAT and ACT and is a common examination in the United States.

As of March 2018, there are no known age restrictions or qualifications to taking the GRE test. The GRE is part of your entire graduate school application. However, depending on the university or universities you decide to apply to, you must also fulfill their qualifications in addition to passing the GRE.

The exam is available electronically and on paper. According to a blog post by Careers 360, an electronic version of the test is not available at test centres.

There are many free and paid GRE resources available. If you’re already learning English using a type of resource, you may or may not need to evaluate if its appropriate for preparing for the GRE.

Analytical Writing

The analytical writing section tests your ability to provide concise responses while providing relevant examples to support your claim. It requires you to analyze the issue, consider the different sides of the argument and develop your own with reasons and examples. Rather than disagreeing or agreeing with the argument, you’re required to build your own stance.

Quantitative Reasoning

The quantitative reasoning section tests your ability to understand and analyze quantitative information. You will also be evaluated on your ability to solve problems using models. To do well, it’s recommended you have a basic understanding of arithmetic, geometry, algebra, and data analysis.

Verbal Reasoning

The verbal reasoning tests your ability to analyze and recognize relationships among words and concepts. It’s a lot like reading comprehension. Half of this section requires you to read a passage and answer questions based on what you’ve read. The other half requires you to read, interpret, and complete sentences or a paragraph or passage.

Helpful GRE Test Resources

The GRE test has many resources available if you’re interested in taking the examination. Here are some of the best ones we’ve come across.

  • ETS.org – ETS.org provides you with a more in-depth knowledge of what the GRE exam is and how you can prepare for it. They provide sample questions and exams for each section.
  • Sachin Joshi’s ZEEF page on English Grammar also provides a helpful list of GRE words to know. You can also strengthen your English grammar skills as his page also provides general English resources.
  • If you have a bit of money to spare, Kaplan Test Prep provides an inexpensive GRE preparation book for 2019.

You may not be thinking to take the GRE now or in the near future. However, it’s definitely something to keep in mind as you may find yourself coming back to it when you’re looking for a promotion or to take a different career path.

Do you plan on taking the GRE?

Etymology: Bumfuzzle

Etymology: Bumfuzzle

I’ve never heard of this word until I searched “funny English words” in Google. According to Dictionary.com, Bumfuzzle is a verb meaning to confuse or fluster.

Bill Clinton apparently used it to address surpluses and budget fights: “The American people must be totally bumfuzzled; [we] keep announcing surpluses and we keep having budget fights.” The word is primarily used in the southern United States.

Dissect Bumfuzzle

While it’s unclear where the word came from, a lot of sources say it’s a combination of “bamboozle,” “fuddle,” and “fuzzy,” all of which are words still used today.

Fuddle and fuzzy are more closely related to the definition of bumfuzzle, both being synonyms of confused. Bamboozle, on the other hand, means to cheat or fool. While this is arguably related to the overall meaning, it hints that bumfuzzle could really mean to confuse or fluster with bad intentions.

Bumfuzzle: The Aftermath

The aftermath of being bumfuzzled is often the feeling of embarrassment. However, it can also be disappointed or angry. Here are three examples of each.

For example, you are promised by your friend that he’ll get you the newest video game for Christmas. Excited, you arrange a day for all your friends to get together to play. But, when you open the present, you realize it’s not a video game but a board game instead. You feel slightly embarrassed, but you play the game anyway.

Here’s another scenario: you are promised pizza by your older sibling if you finish all your chores. You love pizza, you work hard to finish your chores before dinnertime. When the pizza order comes in, you discover that your sibling ordered the pizza you hate.

You get a phone call from your parents that the last piece of chocolate cake is waiting for you at home. When you finally get home, you happen to see your sibling finishing the cake you are promised. Will you feel angry or disappointed that you are too late?

Other Humorous Words?

There are tons of extinct (rarely used) and humorous English words out there. Have you heard of any others? Do you have a favourite?

Writing Exercise: Building Suspense In Writing

Building Suspense In Writing

A dominant theme of horror movies is the concept of the unknown. Who’s behind you? Who’s on the other side? Horror movies are famous for making people question continuously, a great way of building suspense in writing.

In this writing exercise, you receive a call from someone who seems to know you. However, you have no idea who they are. What do they say and how do you respond?

Tips On Building Suspense In Writing

This writing exercise is not limited to suspense. Depending on your approach, you can easily turn this into a different genre such as mystery, horror, and even romance. Though, when creating this exercise, my initial thought is suspense. So, I’m going to suggest some tips on how to write suspense.

I’m no writing professional, but I do enjoy a good mystery or thriller during my spare time. The mystery genre and the suspense genre are considered cousin genres by WritersDigest. In that article, they also mention their nine tips to writing suspense fiction.

They make a good distinction between suspense and mystery. They use the example of an assassination crisis of the president. While a suspense would begin with dropping weapons, mysteries would begin with the knowledge or hint of the assassinated president. “In a nutshell, suspense creates drama before the crisis event while mystery starts its thrill ride after the crisis event.”

My own tips to add to writing suspense include putting yourself in your character’s shoes. In other words, if they aren’t worried, it’s likely the reader won’t be either. Also, use your characters to drive curiosity: when is something going to happen? Your readers can know what is going to happen but when is it going to happen? Or, something bad is going to happen but when?

Drop little hints along the way to fuel the suspense. A good suspense reveals bits at a time through dialogue or exposition. It should answer a question or many questions but leaves the reader hungry for more. In essence, it should build toward the climax of your story.

For example, in terms of this writing exercise, your character may start by feeling confused which escalates to fear after getting multiple calls. The character then realizes that the caller is inside his or her home or is suspicious when something is out of place such as the TV turned off when it was on a few moments ago.

Ready To Write?

These are only a few tips on how to write suspense. While your writing doesn’t have to reflect this theme, it’ll be a great way to practice building suspense in writing. Let’s go back to the writing exercise.

You receive a call from someone who seems to know you. However, you have no idea who they are. What do they say and how do you respond? What happens next?

Writing Exercise: Hero Or Villain

Writing Exercise: Hero Or Villain?

Imagine this: you get an exclusive offer to be part of the main cast of the most anticipated film of the year. They give you two options: to play as the hero or the villain. In this writing exercise, we would like to know which would you decide to play?

The Hero

writing exercise hero villain

A hero (male) or heroine (female) is the protagonist (the main character) of the movie. They combat hardships through strength, bravery, and ingenuity (intelligence). Heroes or heroines perform good deeds for honour and for the common good rather gain fame and fortune. He or she may have some special quality or talent that distinguishes them from the rest of the characters. This can also be an attribute.

There has been debate over the differences between a hero and heroine. Male heroes are often portrayed as physically capable, witty, faithful, determined, chivalrous, and many more fluffy adjectives. Heroines, on the other hand, are argued to shed their feminine traits for them to possess heroic characteristics. Nina wrote an interesting article detailing her thoughts on women heroes and their role in literature, film, and pop culture.

Some common examples of fictional heroes are the ones from superhero movies such as Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Iron Man, and so on. However, Harry from Harry Potter and Thomas from The Maze Runner also classify as a hero. Great fictional heroine examples include Hermione Granger from Harry Potter and Diana Prince from Wonder Woman.

The Villain

writing exercise hero villain

The villain (male) or villainess (female) is often the antagonist (the opposing character) of the movie. They cause conflict and are an obstacle or provide obstacles so the protagonist has difficulty in achieving his or her goal. In cartoons and fiction, villains are often portrayed as scheming. Cackling with glee and rubbing their hands in glee as they plot for world domination or world takeover is an iconic scene.

However, Ben Bova recommends that authors do not include villains in their work. He states, “In the real world there are no villains. No one actually sets out to do evil… Fiction mirrors life. Or, more accurately, fiction serves as a lens to focus on what they know in life and bring its realities into sharper, clearer understanding for us. There are no villains cackling and rubbing their hands in glee as they contemplate their evil deeds. There are only people with problems, struggling to solve them.”

Additionally, there are debates that heroes and villains are driven by different motivations.

Many writers also seek to create sympathetic villains: a villain who has good intentions but are deterred to an antagonistic path along the way. This is an attempt to add realism and a human connection.

A quote by Joseph Brodsky sums up villains and arguably sympathetic villains quite well. “Life–the way it really is–is a battle not between Bad and Good, but between Bad and Worse.”

Which Would You Choose?

While the hero character still dominates most films, literature, and shows, the line between heroes and villains have begun to blur. A quote by Joseph Brodsky sums this up quite well.

“Life–the way it really is–is a battle not between Bad and Good, but between Bad and Worse.”

For this writing exercise, we like to know which character you would like to play? Personally, I wouldn’t like to play either. Three cheers for sidekicks.

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