I love Halloween, though at this time of year I have to content with curmudgeonly Australians who feel as though a holiday is being imposed on them. I can't see past the fake blood and zombie makeup to get to the politico-cultural overtones, frankly. Each year I dress up to join in the Brisbane Zombiewalk, so Halloween (and by extension, scary stories regardless of medium) is my thing. Although I try not to feature too much content from one site, Susan Morris has written another good article featuring tips and tricks to scare your readers. From the movies!
Even if you’re not writing a horror story, knowing how to scare your reader is an important skill to have. We like our villains frightening, our monsters terrifying, and our unknown horrors to reduce us to a quivering goo. Otherwise, we can’t appreciate the heroism of your hero—or their abject fear—when they face whatever horrors you have in store for them. Being able to effectively communicate how scary something is for your hero is key to reader immersion and empathy.
So this post isn't just for horror or dark fiction writers. As Susan explains, the devil's in the details:
Cutting off someone’s head is scary. Pulling off someone’s fingernails is scarier. Finding a fingernail imbedded in the arm of your chair while you’re home skipping class, trying to get your groove on with your boyfriend, is scariest.
You can find the rest here: http://www.omnivoracious.com/2011/10/halloween-special-how-to-scare-your-reader-tricks-from-the-movies.html