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The ghost story ‘The Monkey’s Paw’ (by W. W. Jacobs) will be read to the class. This should take most of a 40 minute lesson.

The story should be used as stimulus material; the assignment is to write a short story which has some of the same ingredients as the one by Jacobs. The features which should be included are:

  • the supernatural

  • horror

  • the grotesque

  • a sense of mystery

  • realistic details

For a basic outline plot and suggested strategy, the following is submitted. It is stressed, however, that this is meant to be a suggestion and not a prescriptive straight-jacket.

Begin with an ordinary scene with plenty of convincing detail - the intention being to create an atmosphere of realism and security. If the setting is mundane and unremarkable, then the credibility or even gullibility of the reader is assured. In other words lull the reader into a false sense of security, so that later more outlandish happenings are also taken for granted.

Gradually introduce the supernatural element. Do so in such away as the reader does not view it as ridiculous and laughable. One way is to make one (or more) of the characters very cynical and disbelieving - then the reader will identify with that character. The reader will be convinced as the character is - especially if that character is the victim.

The supernatural element could be:

  • an object (a charm, photograph, archaeological find)

  • a dream, premonition, sixth-sense,…

  • a ghost, spirit, voice,…

You should try to evoke some sense of the unnatural.

  • Something horrific should happen.

  • You should be sure to aim to create some atmosphere.

Time: 1 lesson for reading of story by W. W. Jacobs.

1 lesson (at least) & week-end homework for the writing up of story.

The end product should be about 5 sides of A4 long (approx. 1200 words) - and should probably include between 8 and 12 paragraphs. Remember to plan the essay out beforehand. Also it might add a little variety if some direct speech (dialogue) were included.