Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Ghost Story: How to create the ultimate shiver!

© VDS Brink November 2010

It is ghost story competition time; expect no mercy and a brutal onslaught to a final moment of glory!
Yet..Toastmasters is about learning and growth step by step and we do it in only one way: sharing everything and building upon our hidden greatness.
This short attempt is in this light to help the participants and make it a great event of some laughter but mainly to cause shivers down the spine!
Stories, also ghost stories need tension, good and bad guys, a victim, and a happy ending.
Little Red Riding Hood (our victim), the bad wolf (bad guy), the forester (good guy), cheating (wolf in grandma’s bed), a climax (wolf killed with an ax), grandma and LRRH emerge smiling and lives happily ever after..(happy ending)
About any story ever, any movie you name follows this pattern. It works and audiences love it.
Some great guidelines from Janie Oosthuisen of Skryfgeheime:

·        Have a great main character. She/he has a special talent. Run fast, clever, arty, beautiful like Snowwhite.. Loveable like Little Red Hiding Hood.

·        She/he lives in a nice place. Yet all sort of weird things tend to happen, especially midnight after the moon as risen..perhaps something’s lurking on the roof...

·        Our hero has a problem, a big one. A strong wind, a big noise, a huge spider or ...a ghost!!
·        Yet she has friends (the forester, the 7 dwarfs or...a friendly ghost!). Also they have special talents a when banding together just anything is possible.

·        Now it is time bad the baddies to enter. They also have special powers and if a ghost can penetrate solid walls or drift in thin air. No end to the misery they can cause.
·        Let the story flow aimlessly colouring on here and there when ..SUDDENLY, something terrible happens. Nothing, but nothing will ever be the same.

·        Our hero/victim and her helpers must now make plans like never before. They think it’s easy but dream on..nothing works and we move from bad to worse like when the wolf swallowed both LRRH and her grandma!

·        We failed miserably, our heroes and dear victim sink further in the mud and there seems to be no hope. But, wait a bit...:

·        A miracle happens, our great hero (friendly ghost?) comes up with a miracle cure/idea and the sun is shining bright yet again. The villains are crushed and were never heard of again.

·        Our victim and her friends live happily ever after.

·        And..there must be a twist in the tail.... leave the audience with a smile and a tear..

From Susan Williams, president of Honeydew Toastmasters Club and professional writer of Prosecoms Pty Ltd ( ) these jewels:
There are three types of ghost stories:
·         A funny ending. That is where I made a huge mistake with the ghost as it was actually the gown or sun hat behind the door.

·         A story without an ending like an urban legend.

·         With a spine chilling ending, the type that grandpa told us and we were too afraid to sleep.

To do it follow some steps:

·         A ghost with a story like the murdered girl form Uniondale. Perhaps searching for his lost chopped off head. The crying baby during full moon, searching for her lost fortune or lover..

·         A spooky place: be descriptive, involve the senses of the audience, a creaking door, an old hospital, eve of midnight.

·         Atmosphere: what do we smell, sulphur perhaps?, raising neck hair, shivers down the spine..

To write any story is hard, hard work, yet a brilliant way to be creative and food for the soul.

Just do it, grab a pen/keyboard and just start with “Once upon a time there was a and a..”. The rest will follow by itself ..


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