Topic: How to write a ghost story
Every culture has its version of ghost stories. Some have religious significance, some are meant to warn or to threaten and some are meant simply for fun. Whatever their purpose, all ghost stories are an attempt to scare. To write a ghost story, take some time to think about the best way to scare your audience.
1. Create a spooky atmosphere that evokes suspense or fear. The setting can be either an incredibly creepy place, such as a cemetery or a haunted mansion. It can also be an average, everyday place with a hint of something out of the ordinary. This kind of setting can be even creepier, as it suggests that ghosts can appear anywhere--even in the most mundane places.
2. Give the ghost portion of the story some context. If the ghost is the main character, haunting the entire story, the audience may not care much about it. But, if there is a full plot with likable characters, the reader will be more interested in hearing more of what you write.
3. Make some type of mysterious element surrounding the ghost. The characters may have to find out what the ghost wants, how it got there or how to get rid of it. Many ghost stories involve figuring out who the ghost used to be. A mysterious element creates more of an emotional investment in readers, as they work along with the characters to discover the secret.
4. Look for the emotional aspect in a story and add some high emotional states to reiterate how scared the reader should be. The character or characters should have some element of fear that the reader can be made to feel along with him. Show the emotion through the characters' action, rather than simply telling the reader how the characters feel.
Ghost stories have fascinated and frightened us since the beginning of time. Many of us wonder about life after death and what might be waiting for us on the other side, but more often we find ourselves wondering what is still here with us on this side. That's the reason ghost stories are so popular.
1. Decide what story you want to tell. Is it one you've made up completely or is it a story based on a popular urban legend or real life ghost story? If you're basing your story on an urban legend or real life ghost story, you need to decide which elements of the story you will keep and which elements you need to leave out in order to tell your ghost story.
2. Tell the story behind the story, especially if your story is based on an urban legend. Urban legends tend to be very short stories with no real background. Develop original characters and backstory around a popular urban legend. Give an urban legend greater authenticity by making it your own.
3. Start writing your ghost story with a supernatural event. Introduce the ghost in an unexpected way. Maybe your main character is getting ready to go somewhere early in the morning. Write his routine. Describe it in a few paragraphs, adjusting your readers to the normality of the scene before you introduce the supernatural element that will set the story in motion.
4. Introduce your main character's story and show us why she is getting a visit from the ghost. Is there a personal connection? Does the ghost need to relay information that only your main character is qualified to deliver? Establish, or at least begin to, establish the connection between your main character and the supernatural element of your story.
5. Be aware of setting. Atmosphere and setting are all important to writing a good ghost story. Empty train stations, old hospitals, old houses, and bus terminals in the middle of the night are examples of great atmospheric locations. A stretch of two-lane blacktop in the country or a cornfield in the middle of the night are other examples. Use locations in your story that are predisposed to hauntings.
Ghost stories are a classic source of spooky entertainment and can be as fun to write as they are to read. Even if you have a great idea for a ghost story, it can be difficult to know where to begin. While there are a few steps you can take to help prepare yourself to write, you can always write the story then go back and revise later to improve your writing or change the plot.
1. Write down a sentence describing your idea for the ghost story. Try to keep the description to one sentence, as that will help you focus your story later when you are writing.
2. Research for your ghost story by reading other ghost stories and looking up information on different types of ghosts. This can serve both as inspiration for your story and as a way to clarify what kind of story you are telling. For example, in some classic ghost stories, the ghosts are visible only to certain people, while in others, no one or everyone can see the ghosts.
3. Take notes on what type of ghosts and settings you will use in your story. This will help your story to sound more real and developed. Write down the "rules" of your ghosts—can they speak, or do they communicate with the living in any way? Who becomes a ghost, and why? What do they look like?
4. Write a list of your main characters, including the ghosts, and describe them both physically and in regards to personality. Any story will need strong, well-developed characters in order to keep the reader interested.
5. Write an outline for your ghost story. Most ghost stories involve a mystery, either in who the ghost is, or what the ghost wants, and there is usually a twist ending. This requires careful planning, as you don't want your reader to guess the ending, but you must plant enough clues along the way so that the ending is not unrealistic.
6. Write your story based on the outline. Allow yourself to write freely and without worrying about editing, as you can always go back and revise. Read through the first draft when you are finished, editing as necessary.
Tips & Warnings
While a mysterious, spooky plot is essential, do not neglect the characters and setting. Your living characters must be believable, and the setting should be spooky and highly atmospheric.
Writing a ghost story can be challenging. To make the story believable and intriguing, you need a great beginning. Using the steps below will help make the process of finding a great beginning for your ghost story a little easier.
1. Check newspapers and magazine articles and watch the evening news. There are often crime and human interest stories that would make great beginnings for a ghost story. Look for stories about missing people, stolen money or murders. Don't stop at the current issues either. Check old magazines and newspapers, too. Look for stories that seem out of the ordinary or unusual.
2. Ask your family for stories from your family's history. There are often stories in a family's past that can bring about great ghost story ideas. Check with grandparents, parent, aunts and uncles about your family's origins and relatives from as far back as can be remembered. Listen for stories about strange deaths and disappearances.
3. Brainstorm ideas. Use any of the beginnings you have come up with from the steps above and brainstorm. Take each beginning idea separately and think about it for 3 to 5 minuets. Write down each new idea or thought you have about it. You will find whole new ideas will emerge from this process. Use your imagination to give potential stories a twist to make them great ghost story beginnings.
Tips & Warnings
As you search out inspirations to provide you with ghost story beginnings, you will find yourself thinking of other plot points and parts of the story. Write these down as well.
Don't rush it. Great ideas don't always come easily and beginnings are often the hardest part to create.
Some ghost stories are meant to terrify, while others are intended to give children a fun thrill. If you are interested in writing a friendly ghost story, the trick is to focus more on the mystery of the story, and less on the scary haunted parts. By writing with a light tone and a bit of humor, you can create an enjoyable ghost story kids and adults alike will enjoy reading over and over again.
1. Decide who the main characters of your story are. The protagonist may be the ghost, or a human character. The antagonist may be the ghost or a human character as well. The antagonist doesn't need to be evil or scary, but simply a person who is causing problems for the protagonist. Create a small cast of characters, including the ghost, before you begin to plot.
2. Write down a sentence or two describing the plot of your ghost story. The basic structure of any story can be broken into three parts; the catalyst (what spurs the main character into action at the beginning of the story), the main conflict of the story, and the resolution or ending. This can be very basic to begin with; for example, "a boy notices strange occurrences in his house and investigates, discovers a ghost with a problem, and helps him solve that problem."
3. Develop each of those three parts into more detail; perhaps a paragraph or two for each part. Keep your story interesting by asking questions and creating more conflict. For example, the first part in the previous example was a boy who notices strange occurrences in his house and investigates. What are the strange occurrences? Maybe he realizes the food in the pantry is rearranged every morning. Why is this a problem? Maybe the boy's father is a chef who gets upset if anyone messes up his kitchen. Now the boy has a reason to prove that it is not him causing the disturbance. Introduce another problem; the boy's father absolutely does not believe in ghosts. Now even if the boy catches the ghost playing in the kitchen, he'll still face the conflict of getting his father to believe him. Continue asking questions and introducing problems for all three parts of the sentence from Step 2.
4. The ghost in your story might be friendly, but if he is not the antagonist there should be another one. In the example above, that would be the father. Write a plot summary that answers the following questions: Why is the ghost in contact with the main character? What is the antagonist's problem? What is the main conflict the main character needs to resolve, and how does he resolve it?
5. Write a first draft of your story based on the plot summary. Choose either first person ("I"), or third person ("He"). Grammar is important, but allow yourself to write in your natural voice, inserting humor when appropriate. Read your draft out loud, then revise any awkward sentences and fix any plot problems.