It’s that time of the year. Orange pumpkins, spooky sounds, ghostly tales, trick-or-treating. A perfect time for some good scary Halloween storytelling.
Through my work as a storyteller, I know that not every story you find online works when you tell it live!
Here I have collected seven short Halloween stories that are great for oral storytelling. Stories that you can also tell.
Some will make the hairs on your back stand straight up, but most won’t keep your listeners awake at night.
1. There’s a Halloween Song We’re Forbidden From Singing
Everybody is happy with the new teacher in the school. He doesn’t know there is a song you can’t sing or a story you can’t enjoy. When he plays the cd with the song “The Ghost of John,” the whole town turns against him.
He meets the dead persons who sang this song before him one by one. Finally, at the end of the story, he is slowly dying but still capable of telling…
My tip: This story lends itself to a paced, neutral telling. It includes a lingering creepy end which you should not explain too much.
2. The Old, Old Lady Offers Halloween Apples
This story is about children going trick-or-treating on Halloween. It ends with what I call in my guide to telling scary stories ‘a lingering creepiness’.
Four children go trick-or-treating. They end up at an old lady’s house, who offers them a basket of apples. They take it home, but the following day the apples are rotten. When they return to the house, it is dark, and they are told nobody has lived there for a long time.
My tip: this story drives on a scary, mysterious feeling. Please resist the temptation to explain it afterward.
3. The Clown on Halloween Night
It’s Halloween Night, and four girls are trick-or-treating. They pass by a church. A clown asks them to help find his dog inside the church. They never get out.
Their blood and bodies are found the following day. Their parents receive cardboard boxes with their … in them.
My tip: this is a gruesome story for older teens and adults. Tell in a very cold, paced, neutral way.
If you are interested: more stories with crazy clowns.
4. Young Man, Old Man, Scarecrow
Robert is driving home from work when he is distracted by Halloween decorations. He is so overstimulated he crashes his car into a ditch.
He seeks help at an abandoned house. Inside he finds a dead body looking like a scarecrow. An old man enters and asks for help saving this scarecrow lady, running off to call the police.
Nobody comes. Robert walks back to a village and warns the police. It turns out the man and his wife had died years and years before.
My tip: visualize the old man in the story as a real, living old man with specific habits and quirks. It will make the story much more potent when you sell your listeners entirely on this old man being alive.
5. The Halloween Legend of Stingy Jack
What is the story about those Halloween pumpkins?
According to history.com, it’s this story, in short:
A guy named Stingy Jack invites the devil to have a drink. Stingy as he is, he does not want to pay. He convinces the devil to turn himself into a coin to trick the bartender. However, the devil is tricked and ends up in Jack’s purse.
Eventually, Jack frees the devil, who returns to him after some time. He tricks the devil into climbing a tree and carves a cross as protection into the tree.
Since then, this evolved into people carving symbols and faces into pumpkins to ward off the devil.
My tip: this story needs some research. Take some time to find different versions so you can present it with the confidence that this is historically plausible.
6. The Dangerous Halloween Dentist
There are many urban legends about razor blades in apples, strange ingredients in candy, and so on. They keep being told and retold.
This really happened.
It was on Halloween, October 31, 1959.
Nobody knows what was happening in his dark mind, but dentist William W. Shyne had cooked up a batch of candy-coated laxatives in his practice.
We can only presume that he either had a sick mind, wanted revenge on these awful children that bothered him, or tried to teach them a lesson. Nobody knows.
He handed out a whopping 450 of these candy-coated laxatives. Every kid that knocked on his door got one. With a little smile…
Thirty children became sick. One ended up in the hospital. Maybe many more ended up spending a lot of time in the bathroom. Luckily there was no irreparable harm.
Of course, people talked, police investigated. Finally, they discovered the culprit, and William W. Shyne was charged with “outrage of public decency” and “unlawful dispensing of drugs.”
Nobody knows what happened afterward. It would make an interesting crime to end up in prison for…
My tip: this story is now more like a newspaper article. Immerse yourself in the characters, the dentist, and the children, and let it grow into a full-fledged story. See my guide on telling scary stories for more tips.
7. My Last Halloween
A family goes trick-or-treating. The two little children knock at the door of an old house. A ghostly character opens with a raspy voice and drags the children inside.
In terror, the father kicks down the door but never again finds the children.
My tip: let this story start very light and develop itself until it turns into total desperation.
5 Tips for Your Halloween Storytelling
- Find a scary story that scares you, but not too much. It will help you to feel the characters’ feelings without lying awake at night.
- Storytelling is about the listeners. Be aware of their reaction to the story, especially if children or teens are present.
- Imagine the scenes of the story. How does everything look, sound, smell, taste, and touch? You can only honestly tell about the things you have imagined yourself.
- When telling the story, pace yourself. Give your listeners time to feel the dread with you.
- Tell the scary story you chose often, as often as possible. It would be best if you had many tellings to make the story yours and to know which details matter and the right timing in telling the story.
Last but not least, consider ending with a story that gives your listeners a chance to unwind. You might find such a story in my collection of funny scary stories with a twist. Laughter is good medicine for fear.
Happy Halloween Storytelling!