Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Ghost Stories and How to Write Them by Kathleen McGurl book review

Whilst I was away on holiday I read my kindle edition of this book by Kathleen McGurl (known for her Womagwriter blog).

In her easy style, Kathleen mixes her own ghost stories (as examples to refer to) with advice on how to write a good ghost story and information on the 3 main types of ghost story. She believes that all have to have a beginning (the main character has a problem/story to resolve this through their actions), a middle (before the problem gets better, things get in the way) and an end (the issue is resolved).  The 3 main types are epic, tragedy and comedy.

Her expertise as a writer for Womag means that she thinks there are 3 ghost story types for this market: 1) Where the ghost is the character with the problem, 2) Where the ghosts presence helps the main character come to terms with a loss, usually of whoever the ghost was when it was alive and 3) Stories where something spooky happens, but there is an alternative rational explanation offered for those who don't/won't believe in the supernatural.

She has 3 main story rules for type 1 stories: 1) What is the ghost's problem and why are they still hanging around on earth when should be in heaven? 2) Why is the ghost haunting people now?  What happened to make it active? 3)  Decide on your ghostly rules and stick to them (i.e. can your ghost walk through walls, move objects etc.) and be consistent.

For type 2 stories there are the following rules: 1) Use lots of emotion  2)  Use a circular story structure (strong hook, backstory comes later or is fed in  3)  The ghost is not the main point of the story.

Type 3 story rules: Alternate rational explanation and work out what the problem is and what needs to happen for it to be laid to rest.

An entertaining and informative book, if a little on the short side.                                          9/10

For more information on Kathleen:

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