How to Write an Urban Legend
The most basic way that people create urban legends is essentially by starting elaborate rumors. They can begin with a small tale, and as they are passed on by word of mouth, the internet, and other outlets, they usually pick up more details that work to make them seem true and believable. Likewise, those same methods may help to disprove them, but the legends can still continue to reach new audiences.
If you’re trying to create your own urban legend, remember these key things:
- It should be based on real life events, people, or circumstances. Without any foundation in reality, and urban legend won’t have any real power or support.
- People only want to believe things that could be real, so if you just make up stories completely, it usually won’t be as popular as one “based on real events.”
- Usually, a believable but unusual tale will get passed on, and like a game of telephone, the information will warp and change as it is passed from person to person.
When and Where to Share an Urban Legend
Traditionally, legends were passed on through oral tradition and storytelling, and sometimes took years to spread or become widely known. Nowadays, however, it’s easy for these tall tales to spread via the internet—social media platforms, blogging, and even news sites can quickly get a story and share it online with thousands (or millions) of people. So, social media and popular blogs are the best place to release your story nowadays, as they have the furthest reach and the greatest potential to spread.
Since they can spread so quickly via the internet and other resources, stories may be quickly believed, or quickly dismissed. For instance, some urban legends may start as rumors that are easily disproved (like the death of a celebrity who hasn’t actually died), while others last for generations (like the idea that it takes 7 years to digest a piece of swallowed gum), while others may continue to grow and gain details for years. So when you’re going to share an urban legend, make sure it is somewhat believable, and has the potential to last.
If shared at the right time, urban legends can gain a permanent place in modern folklore. So, you should generally share your urban legend when it is relevant (when people care about it). For example, a time when vampire literature and culture is popular is a great time to share an urban legend about a vampire. The more interested people are in a particular subject, the more receptive they’ll be of stories or rumors concerning it.