A Few Things You Can Learn From Ghost Story WritersApril 12, 2018

Roald Dahl conducted a study on ghost stories, and discovered two remarkable things at the end of a long, arduous research. Most writers, if not all of them, have written a ghost story. Not all of them were successful in this genre, as the best works were penned by women. Dahl did his best, but he didn't realize that his fantastic tales of childhood heroism and triumph should capitulate him to fame and fortune. He noted that female authors were more intuitive, also emotional. The latter was where fear and malevolent thoughts (or feelings) should spring from.

There's a little chance that you'll write an essay on a ghost story unless the subject is Henry James. And bush literature, our source of great pride, didn't include brooding thoughts on the Outback. It doesn't mean that you can't learn something from these talented ghost story writers, some of whom reached stratospheric heights. There's a loyal following, some of whom compare a reading of a ghost story to a riding of roller coaster. Many don't think that it won't happen to them in real life, so the idea of being spooked out could be their idea of entertainment. You might be reminded of "Annabelle: Creation", which featured Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto. It was a nice attempt until Horror fans notice the loud colors. Could it be David F. Sandberg's homage to "Suspiria"? Maybe.

How could reading ghost stories help you become a better essay writer?

The Clues are Found Between the Lines

The opening paragraph must give the readers everything they need to know. Shirley Jackson argue in "The Haunting of Hill House" that no person can withstand long period of solitude in sane conditions. The Hill House is the only exception, whose walls can't talk at all. It's been standing in solitary existence for 80 years because of these so-called dark secrets. Jackson followed it up with details of how a group of five lived in that spooky house, so they could find out if there was any truth in the (terrifying) rumors or not. The author concluded the novella with a repeat of an opening paragraph, with a slight addition of an ambiguous sentence in the end. She knew that there would be skeptical readers, so there was ambiguity in her narration. It was a right thing, as it would be a mistake to assume anything. The same rule also applies to paper writing, but don't make it a habit to end your uncertainties with question marks.

Pay attention to details, but be picky about it. Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" became one of his most popular short stories because the American, who was known to be a morbid individual, described Prince Prospero's castle in great detail. He paid more attention to the seven rooms, each one differed from the other by their colors. Perceptive readers should be able to guess that the Red Death was already lying there in waiting long before the prince shut himself from the impending doom. It was interesting to note that Poe used metaphor in such striking manner, as the story could be forgotten if he described the ravaging effects of the plague in plain terms. Finding information to support your argument won't be Herculean effort, but you end up confusing your professor if you aren't selective about the details. It's all about persuasion.

You must think out of the box in able to write a good ghost story. Bram Stoker should be given credit if he has lots of references to the vampire legends. Gary Brandner opened "The Howling" with a chilly description of a parch of unholy land near the border of Bulgaria and Greece. He may have a source, he might have thought about it during a long, silent evening. And Rosemary Temperley was able to imagine the extreme scenario of losing a child, as one of her renowned ghost stories happened in broad daylight. There may be a limit to imagination in writing your assignment, but the moral lesson is you can't play safe. Your professor might find out that you're a diamond in the rough (and you're unaware of it).

Practice Makes Perfect

Your first attempt may be good enough, but it's far from perfect. Proofreading will take you longer than expected while you may overlook a redundant idea (or forget to include another important detail). You don't have to feel bad about it, as this is an exercise on literary criticism. You'll have lots of chances.

You must not get carried away or you might lost track of what your argument is all about. In this regard, proofreading must not be about checking typographical errors, grammatical mistakes, and faulty sentence structures. Less is more, so you must try to be subtle in your description of certain details. Write it all if you must point out a very important item, but don't do it once or twice will be enough.

You're writing an assignment on an assigned text, not attempting to pen your own ghost story. Not that you intend it, but your professor might be the first to find out about your hidden talent. You may get away with it, but there shouldn't be a repeat.

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