r/nosleep: what it is, and why i love it

I’ve been thinking about this blog for a bit, and since we’re on brief Hellatus from Supernatural, let’s talk scary stories instead.

I wrote this while it was all bright and sunny outside.

For months last year, I’d been seeing these compilations of “this happened to me and it was really freaky” stories. Some of them were super creepy. Gave me goosebumps creepy. Taking my sister in law’s suggestion, eventually, I looked up the source of many, r/nosleep. This is a subreddit, and on it, the rules are simple.

The stories are real.

Does this mean they are really real? Of course not. But they are told from first person, as though they were real. As the author, it’s against the rules to comment “out of character”, as it were, and indicate it’s a story. As a commenter, it’s against the rules to acknowledge it’s a fake story. It’s against the rules to debunk. Skepticism I’ve seen, but you can’t just say, “oh that’s an awful fake story, FAKER.”

The moon is the only light here.

Here’s the thing, though. This series (link to the first in the series) about the Forest Service? Go read some of that and see if you can tell me whether it’s fake or not. Either this author is crazy talented at sounding like an amateur (and goodness knows people can. Look at the way Jensen sings when he’s Dean), or the stories are for real. Do you know? I don’t.

Some of them are obviously outside the realm of possibility. Like this one (give it a chance. It takes an unexpected and enjoyable twist). But it’s fun to read, and well written. And just this side of believable, in most cases. Which is another rule. There’s also the collected works of Inaaace, including the one which got me started on him, some of which have been assembled into a book. He’s planning another, since he just returned from cancer treatment. Sure, his stories are stories. But writing them in first person grants the reader a feeling of immediacy you don’t get from third person.

The well written ones, the ones that drag you along, like the one that started it all for me, they get under your skin.

I don’t walk at night anymore. No kidding.

Make you think, wow, this could happen to me. And once they get you in that mindset, the goosebumps follow. The chills.

The looking over your shoulder.

Not hurrying down the dark hallway. Swear I’m just walking.

Now, when I read this story, I kinda wanted to give up writing. It flows so effortlessly from beginning to punchline. You can easily believe this is really a person who’s experienced the things they saw, and they’re simply relating the story to you. The ability to write a story so effortless is the result of lots and lots and lots of practice. I envy many of these authors. I haven’t dabbled much in first person, and I’m certain I wouldn’t be able to pull one of these off with the skill some of these authors have.

To me, that is the magic of nosleep. It’s reaching the end of the story and asking…

Was this real? Or not?

A casual walk. Leisurely, even.
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