Writing for Halloween

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A person writing in a notebook with a pen

School is back in session in many places, which means it’s not too early to start thinking about Halloween! It was my favorite holiday when I was a kid and one I still look forward to. These days, I welcome goblins and princesses and superheroes (I wonder how many Donald Trump’s there will be this year?); I will admire the costumes, hand out sweet stuff, and talk to the attendant parents. But this year I’m thinking, too, of all the ghost stories we used to tell, sitting around the fireplace and scaring ourselves out of our wits; sometimes, we even wrote them out and hid them in our siblings’ beds, hoping for an especially big scare.


I don’t remember any writing in school that featured Halloween, but today I expect students everywhere are invited to write about Halloween (or the Day of the Dead). In addition, there are contests galore, such as the Annual Ghost Story Writing Contest, or the National Ghost Story Competition from the Writer’s Mag site. They also host flash fiction writing contests (limited to 513 words) on various themes, one of which is inevitably “horror.


So, as summer is winding down, how about turning our thoughts to autumn and to entering one of these contests, or just asking students to write a 513-word story about an autumnal theme or subject? You’ll have just about two months to come up with an assignment, to invite students to enter contests, etc. This has the potential to be a great graphic novel or other multimodal project. I’d love to hear about any results! Feel free to post them in the comments below, or let me know that you have an example you would like to share privately. And an early happy Halloween to you all!

Credit: Pixaby Image 1850177 by Pexels, used under a CC0 Creative Commons License

About the Author
Andrea A. Lunsford is the former director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University and teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English. A past chair of CCCC, she has won the major publication awards in both the CCCC and MLA. For Bedford/St. Martin's, she is the author of The St. Martin's Handbook, The Everyday Writer and EasyWriter; The Presence of Others and Everything's an Argument with John Ruszkiewicz; and Everything's an Argument with Readings with John Ruszkiewicz and Keith Walters. She has never met a student she didn’t like—and she is excited about the possibilities for writers in the “literacy revolution” brought about by today’s technology. In addition to Andrea’s regular blog posts inspired by her teaching, reading, and traveling, her “Multimodal Mondays” posts offer ideas for introducing low-stakes multimodal assignments to the composition classroom.