How to Write a Ghost Scene


Part 1

1.  What does the overall scene want to achieve? What is the purpose of the scene?

»A. Know the basics and add twists…

I. The basic plot of a ghost story :

  • A ghost shows up.
    The ghost gets scarier.
    The ghost gets even scarier.
    The ghost becomes truly horrifying.
    The protagonist figures out what to do about it

    II.Maybe write a story about a ghost revisiting places from his/her past life

    Perhaps the ghost seeks to right a severe wrong he did during his life in order to find peace. Or maybe he must protect a living loved one from the danger that killed him.

    »B.Add frightening body language such as staring, no blinking, not moving or breathing.

    I.Are ghostly red or black eyes suddenly watching the character in the dark, drawing close with every breath and making them doubt their sanity?

    II.Dogs and cats can see them. They bark/meow at nothing sometimes and like punch the air with their paws at nothing as if there’s someone there.

    Part 2

    2. Focus on the emotions and the actions of the character and the ghost.


    I.Does the air around them feel threatening and wrong?
    II.The key to writing a great ghost story is that you have to take an ordinary situation that your target audience can relate to and imagine themselves in the place of the central character. Once the reader is drawn in, you then put your horror twist in.  
    III. Do they suddenly find themself in complete darkness? What’s waiting for them in the dark? Are they going to be eaten? Sacrificed? Torn to pieces? Is there something crawling across the ground toward them this moment? Is it hungry? What do they need to do to stop it and save themself?  


    I. A creative manifestation of the ghostly presence that builds over the course of the story. ie: hearing knocking sounds, catching glimpses of something in the dark etc.
    A well-detailed backstory for the haunting (ie. the reason the ghost has returned) that is revealed in pieces throughout the story and finally, everything falls into place at the end  

    II.The most unsettling thing about a ghost story is the way everyday objects suddenly become dangerous or scary. ie: Sounds coming out of the fireplace, bedroom cupboards opening by themselves, kitchen utensils floating across the room.  

    Part 3

    3. What is the differences between the character and the ghost? Emphasize these to the reader to give them a vivid image of what’s going on?


    I.At times, ghosts are not completely aware that they are ghosts and it can be that they exist in a state of disbelief of just what they have become. Some ghosts do in fact know what they are and are completely into being ghosts. It may be of their choosing to become one. Some ghosts are afraid and timid of human activity and some are very much attracted to human energy.

    Ghosts and spirits carry over the personality that they had in life and if they were a good person in life they most likely would be a pleasant or benevolent ghost. The same can be said for people who were not so nice in life and they can be not so nice ghosts and spirits. Different ghosts have different behavior and much of the time those ghosts and spirits who do tend to haunt a particular location and attempt to communicate with the living are referred to as an intelligent ghost. Those hauntings that seem more mechanical or those where a scene from the past just plays over and over is referred to as a residual haunting.

    II.You have to arrange the story in a way that it’s not predictable. Make the ghost seem helpless and make the audience develop some sort of compassion for the ghost.  
    III.Ghosts can appear or present itself in various forms and some people see them as shadows, some see dark mist, some see orbs, some see vapors, some see images of a person, some feel a presence of an entity, some can see, hear, feel and talk with apparitions. Depending on where you are or visit, some places are plagued by them.  

    »B. The main action.

    I. You don’t want to start it too early in case the reader loses interest, but for the same reason you don’t want to drag it out too long. Make it slowly escalate. You say little things have been happening? Make sure it’s really little things, like when the character left the room the light was off, but on their return, it was on. Stuff that could easily be explained by technical faults, etc.

    Then it escalates slightly… maybe something goes missing, the remote, the phone charger?
    Now, larger objects are moved – the small rocking chair rocks slightly while squeaking….



    Perhaps have the character first expresses their fears as they begin to hear maybe footsteps up the staircase and outside their bedroom door. They may see small shadows or light that they can’t explain. But during the main action I’d emphasize their fears by making them curl up under the covers or scream.

    Then it’ll escalate even more to sounds – they can hear something/someone upstairs when they’re downstairs. They can hear mumbling and snippets of strange conversations.
    By the latter half, introduce the first actually sighting. Where they see the full ghost (or maybe just a face) for a few seconds.  

    Part 4

    4. What will be remembered by the character and the spirit / ghost? What is the main topic of the conversation if there’s any, or the actions? What does the ghost show the character and is there more than one ghost showing it?


    I.This possession by a evil demon can take place at any time, and in most cases,without the persons knowledge and most of the time it is done at night so that no one can see them.  


    »B. How do they save themselves or the ghost?

    I.For the saving part you could have the ghost possess them and make them about to hurt themself or do something horrible when some hero comes and saves the character or possible another ghost? Who knows, the character can save themself. It is your story.

    For a romance ghost scene:

  • The girl closes her eyes and the male could kiss her. She would feel someone on her lips but when she opens her eyes there’s nothing….. Unless he can be seen.

    Have him hold her hand and send goose bumps up her spine from the touch but she knows everything will be all right with him by her kind of thing…


    Part 5

    5. How does the ghost leave? Does the ghost leave at all or do they come back to life? If so, how… and that will end up becoming a resurrection scene. What goodbyes are exchanged?

    »A.Have the ghost disappear at the end. Like his duties on earth are fulfilled and he becomes a guardian angel and must go to heaven leaving the character behind.

    I.Physically, they can move objects or touch us.
    Sight – manifestation, orbs, mists
    Hearing – noises without an obvious source – knocking, footsteps
    Psychic – messages, words that seem to be heard within the brain, but no one else heard them.  



    I.  Mirrors can often be portals to the other side. Maybe the character tells the ghost what he seeks is in the light, that it’s time for him to move on.  

    II.Just make sure that you describe things,weather,smells, etc. Set the scene, the characters and their personalities, make it work into the picture your trying to paint for the reader.

    III. Keep it interesting and the reader wondering what will happen on the next page. Lastly, end it well. Don’t let the story line wind up dropping the ball in the end leaving the reader wondering why they bothered to read your story



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