Edgar Allan Poe penned immortal poems, such as “The Raven" and “Annabel Lee," and unforgettable tales of psychological horror, such as “The Tell-Tale Heart," “The Masque of Red Death," The Cask of Amontillado," and “The Fall of the House of Usher." He was also a prominent literary critic and essayist, as well as the inventor of the detective story.
In a recently-found treatise, he set down the following advice for bettering a story: *
- Employ an unreliable narrator, preferably one who doesn't know he is insane and has no recollection of such events as digging into a grave to rip out the teeth of his recently departed lover.
- Include a beautiful woman with raven locks and porcelain skin, preferably quite young, and let her die tragically of some unknown ailment.
- Use grandiloquent words, such as heretofore, forthwith, and nevermore. A little Latin will also enhance the text.
- Do not shy away from such grotesqueries as inebriation, imprisonment, insanity, and men costumed as orangutans being burned to death.
- When in doubt, bury someone alive.
*Poe didn't really compose this advice, but, as he was fond of a good hoax, we hope he would be pleased by this affectionate charade.