Should your Halloween be super spooky or sparkly and Vamperina?
Our tendency is to say that this is dependent on age level. Older kids are cool with spooky. Younger kids need cute Vamperina. And that’s true to a point. A young reader’s creepy and atmospheric is Creepy Carrots. For an older reader you can get much scarier and more ominous – something along the lines of The Coldest Girl in Cold Town.
But even then, you have to be aware that you are writing to a specific kind of reader. There are kids who will like both Creepy Carrots and Vampirina. There are kids who will find Vampirina too cute and Creepy Carrots too creepy.
But not all older readers can handle things that are really scary and atmospheric. We saw Meg with a friend and her kids. Her thirteen year-old son both loves and hates jump scares. Meg was pretty much the limit of what he can handle.
Anything that builds up to true horror would probably give him a heart attack. And I get it. I love it, but I’m the same way. My son begged me to watch The Walking Dead with him but then refused to sit with me. I know something is going to happen. As a result, I jump when the camera pans too fast which is pretty much every time the camera pans. I jump when leaves twitch. I jump a lot. I jumped at Meg too but I still love it.
Get your reader in your head. Write the story for that reader. But know that it probably will not be a story that appeals to every reader. You just have to know your audience.