[Reading Room] Dress of White Silk by Richard Matheson

I can see why so many episodes of the Twilight Zone start with the words “From a story by Richard Matheson”…

GREAT story!

This creepy little story starts with a kid who has been locked in a room by ‘Granma’, and we don’t know why, yet.

It’s told in the voice of the little kid, and I mean, really in the voice of a little kid:the grammar’s all wrong and there are no apostrophes in the contractions. The story can be a little hard to read at times, because of it, but the errors keep us firmly in this kid’s head the entire time — no narrator’s voice, here. This is a great technique for a writer to steal borrow, if you’re bold enough.

This is my kind of horror story: the horror is all implied. It starts off disturbing and slides downhill from there!

Because the reader doesn’t know what’s going on for most of the story, it was very important that the main character be compelling…and she is. Even though I didn’t know where the story was going, I had to keep reading to find out more about this poor kid who I felt I knew because her voice was so strong. Why was she locked in her room? What happened to her mother? And why is Granma so freaked out by this white silk dress? None of this would have mattered to me if I hadn’t been so engaged by the character. She very quickly seemed real, in part because she sounded like a real little kid.

I can see why so many episodes of the Twilight Zone start with the words “From a story by Richard Matheson” flashing across the screen!

What character could you create that might have a voice this strong?

Read the story here.

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