How to write a ghost story and where to begin

Updated March 23, 2017

Ghost stories are a classic source of spooky entertainment and can be as fun to write as they are to read. Even if you have a great idea for a ghost story, it can be difficult to know where to begin. While there are a few steps you can take to help prepare yourself to write, you can always write the story then go back and revise later to improve your writing or change the plot.

Write down a sentence describing your idea for the ghost story. Try to keep the description to one sentence, as that will help you focus your story later when you are writing.

Research for your ghost story by reading other ghost stories and looking up information on different types of ghosts. This can serve both as inspiration for your story and as a way to clarify what kind of story you are telling. For example, in some classic ghost stories, the ghosts are visible only to certain people, while in others, no one or everyone can see the ghosts.

Take notes on what type of ghosts and settings you will use in your story. This will help your story to sound more real and developed. Write down the "rules" of your ghosts—can they speak, or do they communicate with the living in any way? Who becomes a ghost, and why? What do they look like?

Write a list of your main characters, including the ghosts, and describe them both physically and in regards to personality. Any story will need strong, well-developed characters in order to keep the reader interested.

Write an outline for your ghost story. Most ghost stories involve a mystery, either in who the ghost is, or what the ghost wants, and there is usually a twist ending. This requires careful planning, as you don't want your reader to guess the ending, but you must plant enough clues along the way so that the ending is not unrealistic.

Write your story based on the outline. Allow yourself to write freely and without worrying about editing, as you can always go back and revise. Read through the first draft when you are finished, editing as necessary.


While a mysterious, spooky plot is essential, do not neglect the characters and setting. Your living characters must be believable, and the setting should be spooky and highly atmospheric.

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About the Author

Kara Page has been a freelance writer and editor since 2007. She maintains several blogs on travel, music, food and more. She is also a contributing writer for Suite101 and has articles published on eHow and Answerbag. Page holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of North Texas.