Concepts of Horror and writing a good ghost story

Now that the Christmas session is just around the corner and many festivities will be taking place, let us not forgot that Christmas was and to a minor degree still is a time for telling ghost stories.

Charles Dickens and M.R. James are two notable writers from the Victorian/Edwardian period that delighted audiences with a good scare and a entertaining yarn.

ghost stories

There was in fact a well practiced past time, during the Victorian and Edwardian period and many years before these times, of telling and reading ghost stories at Christmas time. Often such stories were told around a gently glowing fire, and with a little luck a storm blowing outside to help set the atmosphere.

A past time that has sadly been lost in the modern age and perhaps only practiced in a very limited number of house holds around the world.

However the successor to the ghost story in this modern age has been that of horror and of the horror movie, so to some degree this past time has continued, but evolved into a new form that has many different faucets. Including Zombie horror, Folk Horror, Found Footage horror, to name but a few, both in book, TV, Video Game and movie format.

The quality of such offerings differing a great deal, from excellent to dire. But when you watch or hear a horror story that is both entertaining and provides a good scare (as the film director, Alfred Hitchcock once said that the audience wants a good scare, not a bad one) that it feels like finding a little gem. And the director, writer or those responsible for it’s creation likely have done a diligent and well studied piece of work, for the rich history of ghosts and horror stories stretches back many years and with some clearly defined concepts and approaches to telling a great scary story.

For some insights into writing good horror the video below provides some great little gems of info and if you are keen to learn more please see the links at the bottom of this post for further reading.

See the articles below for further haunting tales, how to write them or their history:

Ghost Stories

The Corpse Light from Dick Donovan: The Corpse Light (Victorian Ghost Story)

An audio reading from Jerome K Jerome: The Haunted Mill – A Victorian Christmas Ghost Story

Animated Ghost and Horror Stories: Animated Horror and Supernatural Stories – From Llama Arts

Articles on how to write horror or Ghost Stories

A non-fiction article taking an academic look at the history of ghosts: A Concise History of Ghosts and Famous Accounts in Literature

M.R James and his Ghost Stories: M. R. James and his Ghost Stories

A short Introduction to Edgar Allen Poe: A Short Introduction to Edgar Allen Poe

How to terrify your readers with a well-written monster: How to Terrify your readers with a well-written Monster!

Turn the Monsters Loose: “Turn the monsters loose”

How to writer a Victorian ghost story: Writing a Victorian ghost story.

How to make your writing suspenseful – A talk from TED-Ed: Make your writing suspenseful