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I CAN SEE THROUGH YOU! WRITING SCARY GHOST STORIES! Ghost stories are a great way for fiction writers to flex their imaginative muscles and if you can come up with a really good scary tale of flesh creeping terror, then you could well give yourself a head start in most short story contests. The problem is, the majority of ghost stories are tiredly predictable. They tend to relate anecdotes rather than tell proper stories and most rely far too heavily on shock tactics by including graphic descriptions of blood, gore and gruesomely tortured body parts! The two main elements of a good ghost story are suspense and surprise. Creating atmosphere and leading your reader down dangerous paths through the unwitting actions of your characters will help generate suspense. Surprise can be created in all kinds of ways, but one which works very effectively is to have your main protagonist as the ghost! This works well in either the third or first person. To introduce the surprise element you need to tell the action through the ghost’s eyes or view point and not reveal that he/she is a phantom until the final paragraph. It has been done before so you will need to take care on how you pull it off. Be very subtle! Let either the action or some revelation on the part of the characters themselves divulge the knowledge. You can do this by knowing a few “facts” about ghosts! 1. Ghosts are transparent which means you can see through them! This could be useful under certain circumstances, but for the most part you will want your ghost to appear as “real” as any mortal! The attribute can work well if you use it as a revelation at the end of the story by having the character suddenly aware that he/she can see the table top through their hand! 2. Ghosts do not cast shadows! Great for day time or moon light scenes. Let one character become aware that only one shadow is present! 3. Ghosts do not have reflections. Similar to above. If a ghost stood behind you and you both looked in a mirror you should only see I CAN SEE THROUGH YOU! WRITING SCARY GHOST STORIES!


one reflection. However, you might want to disregard this as seeing more than you expect in the looking glass is a great way of raising a shiver! 4. Ghosts do not eat or drink. Drop some hints about meals or drinks being left untouched. 5. Ghosts will not touch a bible or crucifix. Don’t make your ghost a monk or clergyman if you want to use this! 6. Ghosts will not cross running water. Water is the symbol of life which is an anathema for a ghost. Would make a great love story or a tale of temptation. The mind boggles with what you could make of a mortal and a spirit separated by a river! 7. Ghosts cannot be touched! Of course they can’t, they have no physical body, but you could have a lot of fun with an aging lecher panting after a nubile young spirit! 8. Ghosts can be immediately identified by animals such as cats, dogs and horses which react strangely in their presence. This can potentially be very useful if you are keeping a character’s true identity secret. Use an animal to drop out clues and alerts that something isn’t all it seems! 9. Ghosts cannot physically harm humans. No, but they do have powers of levitation! Strange movements and objects being found out of place are great ways of building tension! 10. Ghosts can selectively haunt! This is a useful attribute as you can have just one character seeing the apparition and perhaps being controlled by it. All the other characters think he/she is unbalanced … until the final twist! 11. Ghosts are particularly fond of children and teenagers. The life force in the young and fluctuating hormones is said to attract them. Whether this is so doesn’t really matter, spooky children can be particularly creepy! What if your protagonist had an imaginary friend!!!! 12. Ghosts have a fondness for places where they once lived or died! This is great for scene setting as your reader will half expect a

I CAN SEE THROUGH YOU! WRITING SCARY GHOST STORIES!


gothic castle, deserted chapel or a ruined farm house to be haunted. Don’t disappoint them by going for the obvious! Hopefully that little lot will have set your mind racing! If you would like a bit more advice about writing ghosts stories you will find How To Write Really, Really, Scary Ghost Stories and How To Write Scary, Scary Ghost Stories on the Writelink online creative writing community site useful.

I CAN SEE THROUGH YOU! WRITING SCARY GHOST STORIES!

I CAN SEE THROUGH YOU! WRITING SCARY GHOST STORIES!  

Ghost stories are a great way for fiction writers to flex their imaginative muscles and if you can come up with a really good scary tale of...

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