Spending the Night in an Irish Cemetery? Don’t do this…

By Jessica Albon

Irish Graveyard
Photo by IrishFireside

It was a balmy summer evening and I was wandering through a small town in Ireland with three friends several years ago. When we were about a mile outside of the town limits, we came upon an old gated cemetery. Because it was still quite light (although it was after 10 p.m.), the atmosphere was anything but scary, so what was there to do but make things a bit scarier?

So, we sat under a big tree, and pulled the scariest stories we knew from our memories. Most of them, in any other environment, weren’t exactly scary. There was the one about the guy with the hook for a hand and the tale about the babysitter, and many others I don’t recall.

As it grew later and later, the fog rolled in, and the sky darkened. There was a full moon that night, and it cast its eerie, fog-blurred glow onto the headstones, and cast shadows through the branches of the tree we sat beneath. The wind picked up just the slightest bit, and knocked the branches against one another. And we continued to tell our scary campfire stories.

I was in the middle of my story, almost to the end, when one of my friends interrupted by saying, “Let’s get out of here,” and he scrambled to his feet and started to back away. The three of us quickly followed, though we didn’t know what he had seen. (Later, we found out he was pretty sure someone was coming out of the groundskeeper trailer.) Thoroughly shivered, and deliciously scared, we told un-scary stories the whole walk back to town.

Scary stories told in the middle of the day, sitting in the sun with a lemonade, seldom have much impact. Even when they’re genuinely scary, it’s hard to get really scared by a story in a normal, every day situation.

Scary stories after midnight in an Irish cemetery? Those can be scary. Even when they’re the exactly same stories.

It’s all about the atmosphere. Sure, a great storyteller helps, but if you really want to inspire the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up, shivers to race down your spine, and your eyes to study every shadow for danger… The atmosphere has got to strike the right chord.

And the same is true in your business. If you want your clients not to balk when they hear your rates, your website design has to make it clear why you’re worth them. If you want prospects to respond to each issue of your ezine with requests to work with you, make sure you write your newsletter articles in a way that makes it crystal clear that you know what you’re doing.

Without the right atmosphere, your scary stories are probably more funny than scary, but when you start by finding the right atmosphere, even the most stalwart will admit to a minor case of the creeps.