In the workshop, we will discuss ideas, structure and plot points that relate to classic victorian ghost stories and in particular those of M.R.James. The aim will be for you to learn how to write in a Jamesian style and then in your own time proceed to write a short ghost story. If you already have a lot of experience in this genre, please still feel to join and share your knowledge.
The meetup will be a laid back workshop and participants will be encouraged to engage in the discussion.
1. A short introduction to the Jamesian style.
2. An overview of general approaches to making your writing suspenseful:
2.1 Limit the POV.
2.2 Style and form.
2.3 Dramatic irony.
Then the body of the meetup will be for all to discuss and come up with ideas following the points below – for your own ghost stories.
3. The Jamesian Style:
3.1 Location and setting.
3.2 The main protagonist.
3.3 An object.
I will bring some specific examples of characters and settings from some of James stories.
To create the perfect Jamesian ghost story you will need the ingredients below:
1. A quaint, ancient setting. Such as a twee English country village, an estranged seaside town or a stately Abbey. James loved to utilise the antiquity of a colourful setting with an isolated atmosphere.
2. A lady or gentleman protagonist. Many of James’ characters are naive reserved scholars, who are often not convinced something strange is happening until the final climax of the story.
3. A pivotal antiquarian object. Whether an old book or an antique, the discovery of a mystery object that unlocks and attracts an unwelcome figure from beyond the grave is a signature mark of James’ stories.
The story that you produce will be after the meetup, will be at your own pace and in your own time, but it would be great to see your short stories, if you wish to share them, once they have been completed.
James was a lecturer at Cambridge University and at Christmas time he became well known for reading back his ghost stories.
He was master of the uncanny, the purveyor of the uncomfortable and a writer renowned for his atmospheric ghostly tales. It was also in Victorian times a tradition to tell ghost stories and one of the most famous ghost stories of all time was set in the Christmas period – that, of course, being “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.
Jameson ghost storytelling was straight down the line and revolved around the idea of real ghosts, not psychological illusions or paranoid affects of the human mind. So if you prefer writing psychological type ghost or horror stories then this workshop may not be for you.
– Just to note – although Jame’s stories were published in the Edwardian period, he wrote and shared them primarily during at the end of the Victorian period.
The writer M.R. James once said: “Two ingredients most valuable in the concocting of a ghost story are the atmosphere and the nicely managed crescendo.… Let us, then, be introduced to the actors in a placid way; let us see them going about their ordinary business, undisturbed by forebodings, pleased with their surroundings; and into this calm environment let the ominous thing put out its head, unobtrusively at first, and then more insistently, until it holds the stage.”