Well, I’m back again after writing my first post on here about horror writing to delve into something more specific.
A while ago Shannii asked me to write about horror stories for the blog and tell you all what makes them scary, as well as the areas they fail in. Finally, I now have the time and a desk which I can use to finally talk about horror writing and hopefully give some advice.
In this particular post, I will be looking at some of the most well known spooky stories on the internet from that well-known website called creepypasta.
Originally, I was going to look at them all one by one. I still can! If people are interested of course. For now, though let’s start looking at the creepy corner of the internet…
What is Creepypasta?
Most people will be aware of well-known characters and stories associated with the term creepypasta. Most people will also say it originated on 4chan then branched off and became its own wiki, filled with urban legends and original characters. But the exact origin is pretty unclear when you look it up.
“Scary stories on the internet” is probably the broadest way to describe it. However, I see creepypasta as a genre of its own where you can spot the traits of stereotypical creepypasta stories a mile off.
While I would love to delve into every popular creepypasta character, I do not have the time. However, there are some that I have more than enough to say about to hopefully have you come away from reading this with something.
Characters like Jeff The Killer and Slender Man are both synonymous with the brand, their stories and lore are both great examples of what makes a creepypasta story. However, are they both examples of what makes a good horror story? We’ll find out.
Also, TW: Mentions of suicide and homicide (I won’t be going into detail but they will be mentioned) the stories themselves can also contain gory depictions so do not read them if they’ll badly affect you.
I’ll start by giving a disclaimer, these will contain spoilers for the stories of the characters I’ve mentioned above. I will not be adding any of their pictures so don’t worry about getting a nasty surprise. Lastly, this is all my opinion, I know the fan base can be protective over these characters but if anything? Maybe this can help with your fan fiction.
Jeff The Killer
Jeff is a character who is probably one of the most well known out of all of them beaten only by Slender Man. It’s about a teenage boy who, after an incident with bullies, ends up with a rather scary appearance and a homicidal nature.
It is accompanied by a photo of “Jeff” which is rumoured to be a heavily edited photo of a girl who committed suicide. After finding out that information about the photo, I honestly felt a little icky about the situation as it does seem disrespectful. If that story is even true of course.
I’ve seen people argue that since it’s involved in a story that’s “against bullying” it’s like the photo can help stop bullying through scaring people. However, given the fact the story is about a serial killer who tells people to “go to sleep” before murdering them. I feel it’s safe to say it doesn’t promote anti-bullying in a healthy way and it shouldn’t really be glorified like that.
It may not be true that the photo has originated from there but people have been able to reasonably say it’s likely.
However, I am not calling to cancel Jeff The Killer, Creepypasta or anything like that. I do feel it’s important we acknowledge the potential origin of the photo. There are many pieces of fan art of Jeff that I feel are better representations of the character and while they’re based on that photo they look more like their own characters as opposed to being edited versions of an actual person.
Removing the photo from the story is removing around 90% of what scares people. (That’s a made-up figure if you didn’t realise).
The photo and the character are very popular but in terms of the actual story, it’s just Jeff’s origin story.
The horror comes from the idea he could break into your house and kill you, as opposed to the actual story itself. It also comes from the shock of scrolling through the story only to see that disturbing photo.
The same thing can be achieved by saying “this is Jeff The Killer if you do not send his image to 30 people in 30 minutes he will break into your house at night” like all those chain letters you see on social media.
This isn’t to say I don’t think his origin story is good, I just don’t think it’s great. I understand why he is a popular character but the story itself isn’t amazing.
Then again, I do admit to having a bias against stories that are less plot and more gore. Popcorn horror is good enough for some people, it’s even good enough for me when I’m not looking to actually be scared or invested in the plot. I also do want to say that the lore surrounding Jeff is very interesting, I love the fact people built onto his character and his world.
When you search for the most popular creepypasta, you will probably come across Slender Man. He’s a very popular figure who has had games, movies and many YouTube videos made about him over the years.
He’s mostly seen as a faceless figure in a suit, usually around 8 feet tall lurking in the background of people’s photos. The only thing that stops him from being an unknowable cosmic horror is the fact that since there is no true canon with him, this means everything is canon. You could easily make a story (as many people have) about his origins and intentions, a story where he speaks and has a personality.
He is a character without origin and without a real story therefore there isn’t a story for me to really look into. I can, however, talk about what makes him scary.
The idea of a monster or entity that has literally no way of beating it (aside from in the games where you need to collect 8 pages) is very similar to Japanese urban legends, where there may be interpretations of how to escape but no real method that’d definitely save you.
It’s also unknown what he does when he captures you. In horror, I prefer implication over explicit descriptions.
It can very easily latch onto the irrational part of your mind and make you think he is coming for you. Even some stories speak of “slender sickness” a condition where you become so obsessed with him, you see him everywhere.
Now whether he scares you or not, is subjective, but he has the qualities of what I would consider a good urban legend. The only thing that holds him back is the lack of a true canon.
What makes a good Creepypasta?
Well, as you can tell from the two examples above, the most popular Creepypasta stories revolve more around making a creepy character than they do the actual story.
It’s not just those two, by the way, there’s also Eyeless Jack, Laughing Jack and Ticci Toby who are all popular Creepypasta characters. Their stories are similar to Jeff in terms of the fact they all just focus on creating a character as opposed to the actual quality of the story. But hey! It worked, they’re popular.
Though the question is, what makes a good Creepypasta?
There are quite a few I would consider to actually be good stories such as Candle Cove.
Candle Cove is unique in the sense that it’s formatted as though it’s on a forum – like there are real-life people talking about a TV show they all remember. Only for the final twist at the end to reveal there was never a show in the first place and they all just have a collective disturbing memory of imagining this show while sitting in front of a television showing static.
As the conversation (the story of Candle Cove) progresses, you see the tone start to change and tension start to build as you find out this initially innocent-sounding childhood show is actually quite disturbing. Only to then find out, right at the end that the show never really existed.
I know it’s a fictional story and the show doesn’t exist anyway but technically it does as Channel Zero actually adapted it into a TV series which gave the conversation on the fake forum an actual story.
Building up the tension like that, not only makes a good Creepypasta but also a good horror story in general.
To conclude, while Creepypasta isn’t a perfect shining diamond, there are definitely good stories among the bad and good characters among the stereotypes. I would love to write about more stories but alas, I’m out of time.