Tag Archives: writer games

ACTIVITY: 13 Candles

15 Jun

“My name is Crave, and I’m a ‘scaredy-cat.” The genre of horror doesn’t belong on my bookshelf, nor do I plan to pen a spine-tingling tale. Though I’m still a sucker for a good (bad) ghost story. As a boy scout, the burning logs may have warmed my flesh,  but the spooky campfire stories chilled my bones. Wanting to close my ears there was a mysterious force beckoning me to listen.

The power of strange and scary stories are epitomized in Japan’s 百物語 (ひゃくものがとり) /Hyakumonogatori/ 100 Stories. During the 江戸時代Edo period (1603-1868), Japanese would partake in this parlor game by lighting 100 candles. Participants would take turns sharing scary stories and after each one would extinguish one of the candles. As the night progressed, the room would become darker. Finally, when the last candle ws put out, it was believed that a paranormal event would occur or the room would be visited by a 溶解(yokai), a strange monster from folklore and pop culture.

For a more in-depth look on 百物語/100 Stories check out the original post at craveVSworld: 日本.

Hyaku Monogatori


Today’s audience may not have the patience to wait through 100 stories in increasing darkness, nor would the fire chief approve of so many flames in an enclosed space. Therefore, to fit spacial and time constraints, this activity only requires an unlucky and forbidden number of candles/stories. 

Directions: Any number of people gather together in a closed space. 13 candles/lights/flashlights are lit/turned on. A sequence of 13 stories are read and at the end of each story one of the lights is extinguished/turned off. The stories should be meant to invoke fear in the reader, and can be published or original works. Participants may share the responsibility of bringing/reading stories, or a leader may supply and read them. Before beginning, set the mood by stating how once the room is blanketed in darkness, something out of the ordinary will occur. Be sure to sit in the darkness for a few minutes to allow imaginations to flood with fear.

Writers / Critique Groups / Writer Conferences

Ideal for a critique group to share their favorite or original works of horror. In addition, utilizing a conference room, participants could experience the power of the horror. This would be ideal if say R.L. Stine happened to be a keynote speaker.

Students / Classrooms / Camp
Emersing students into a Hyakumonogatori atmosphere invokes fear while promoting the power of storytelling. As a high school English teacher in south Florida, I taught a unit on Edgar Allan Poe in complete darkness. The students may not have learned anything from this ‘gimmick,’ but the experience engraved itself in their memories thus providing a bridge to the knowledge and skills taught in the lesson. Be sure to check with your superiors if this activity is deemed safe, or try using flashlights instead. If you are a writing instructor, encourage students to read their own original ghost stories. Feel free to increase the number of candles/stories to fit your needs.
If anyone tries this activity, please comment below with your reactions/thoughts.
Happy ghost story telling imaginators!