After a break last week, I thought I would come back with something a little different. Instead of giving you tips on how to write, I’m going to share what to write if you are writing about ghosts. I am well researched in any number of topics, but ghosts have been a passion of mine since I was a little one. What I have below are the generally accepted “facts” based on various research.
One of my biggest peeves in horror is when the rules are completely discarded. They are very flexible rules. The topic has pretty much limitless loopholes, but, as with any subject, there are some parameters. If you’re working from a purely fantastical horror place, by all means, make up your own rules, but if you want your ghost story to have an air of authenticity (ie, something your readers can research and scare the hell out of themselves finding out that this shit is documented!!!) here are a few things to consider.
- Ghost use Energy
What does this mean? Well, as you eat food to function, ghosts use energy. They can get this from water and electricity. Ghost hunters will frequently time their investigations to coincide with thunder storms. Mills and buildings by water sources can be ripe with activity as are ships. Haunted houses often have electrical problems.
Or… They can draw their energy from people. A spirit can siphon energy away from a living human, leaving them drained, and causing health problems. Spooky, right?
- Not as hauntings are human
We don’t have to jump right to demons in order for this to be creepy. On the lower end of the spook scale we have residual hauntings (imprints that have been left on a space, like a video recording that sometimes plays) and elemental hauntings (if you want to get really out there). On the higher end there are poltergeists and shadow people.
- Ouija can bite you in the ass
Oh yeah, it’s a cliche, but it is for a reason. Not every innocent slumber party seance can result in unspeakable terror, but when you cast a line out into the abyss, you don’t know what you’re pulling back. woooooooo!
- Ghosts are people too
Not every supernatural encounter is with an evil murderer who wants to steal your life force. How many of those people do you encounter on a regular basis? The rules would be the same for ghosts. Sometimes a terrifying encounter is only terrifying because a person doesn’t understand where it’s coming from. A beloved deceased grandpa might knock a vase off a shelf if its the only way to get the attention of the person he wants to reach out to.
- They can do it
Depending on their intentions a ghost can do just about anything you fear they might do, but it will require a significant amount of energy, so if the ghost in your story is going to shove a person down the steps, manifest in the dark hallway, or warn a family that their house is on fire, there is generally a precursor. Flickering lights, electric storm, or a family feeling drained and lethargic.