Recently, I received a promising story for the Kid's Imagination Train magazine. The author kicked off the piece with conflict: the main character tells a friend that a monster lurks in their neighborhood. Great! The story was off to a good start. Throughout the piece, the tension was successfully created. But unfortunately, the ending was a letdown. Quite frankly, the monster was not all that scary.
This ending might have worked better if the monster was:
* large in size, that is, something a kid can’t squish with his foot or,
* something amazingly detestable for a kid to encounter or,
* a believable, yet unexpected surprise
When you write a scary story, close it with a strong ending—something that is icky or would give kids the goose bumps. That’s what you’re aiming for. Resist the urge to slip in a scientific fact to clarify the ending. It will come across as being too didactic. The last thing children want to read at the end of a suspenseful story is an explanation (even if it’s one sentence). An explanation may slow the action and weigh the ending down.