Thursday, July 29, 2010

Don't Be a Ghost

Today I am going to answer a very important question. What can Ghosts teach us about writing? Well, the answer is what NOT to do...

1. Selective Apparition
Ghosts are known for showing themselves only when they feel like it. And even then, most people are left with the question - did I really just see that? Don't do that if you want to succeed as a writer. Be seen. Be heard. Be more like a poltergeist. Use blogs and Twitter and other social media. Go to conferences. Do reviews for other authors. You don't have to sell yourself, just BE yourself. Get to know people. I've learned so much and I keep learning more all the time because I put myself out there as much as possible.

2. Monosyllabic Speech
Ghosts aren't notoriously good with verbalization. I'm sure there are exceptions, but as a whole they really ought to work on their grammar. Now, I know what you're all thinking, if you're a writer then you are probably pretty decent with words. But here's the thing, if you don't keep working on it, you will end up losing it. Writing evolves. You improve at your craft no matter what level you are at with practice and education. If you get to the point where you think you know it all, well, unless you're J.K. Rowling, that probably means you still have a ways to go.

3. One Dimensionality
This is a very simple one. Ghosts lack substance. Your characters should NOT.

4. No Spector Handbook
Ghosts are thrown in to their new state of being with little to no help. That's why most ghostly encounters are so different from each other. There's no general consensus on how to haunt properly. Luckily for us, there are industry standards. Rules (or as I like to think of them, guidelines) to help us behave in a professional manner. If you are querying for example, you ought to know what agents are looking for. If you don't, do some research. There's so much information available. That holds true for any stage of the game.

5. Predictability
Lets face it, ghosts are predictable. Scary perhaps, but if I had to choose between the dilapidated mansion that even the strays cross the street to avoid and the new hotel on the corner... My point being, never settle for common. Writing a vampire story? Shake it up! Make it something new. Put in a twist we've never seen. Our imaginations are unlimited. So don't put limits on them.

6. Ghosts don't scare themselves
We should. I think I've mentioned before that I heard Libba Bray speak at a local writer's conference and what she said really hit home for me. Write what scares you. If you aren't then you aren't growing as a writer. You can always go back and change things later, but don't get stuck in a rut. Scare yourself!

And there is one thing that ghosts get right.

That's right. Those buggers don't go anywhere. Dead? Pheh. That's not gonna stop me from hanging around. We should take a lesson in that. Stick it out - no matter what. Don't give up. Don't throw in the towel. No matter how tempting it seems sometimes. Keep plugging away and that's how you will succeed.

Don't forget to check back in on Monday for some HUGE Monday Madness...


  1. Boo!

    Does this apply to ghost writers? ;-)

    I'm a random spectre at the moment, but once summer's through I'll be back to my old self.

  2. Love the creative post, Lisa. Enjoy LA. I could call you a mean name here because I'm jealous, but that wouldn't be very nice now, would it? :) Have fun with Martina and I hope to link up with you next time!


  3. Ha, you're absolutely right about ghosts persevering. Keep striving toward your goal - for all eternity...

  4. Love it - those are great analogies :)

  5. Christi - Yes. It even applies to ghost writers. ;) And no worries, I haven't been so great with visiting either. We will both do better in the fall.

    Marissa - :( Don't YELL at me! He he he. We will miss you I promise.

    Anna - Thanks and no kidding! It is difficult but we must keep plugging away. You're living proof!

    Jemi - thanks :D

  6. I love the "scare yourself" advice. I think I do, but maybe I can actually scare myself more. Back to the draft!

  7. Lee - that advice did wonders for me (and my manuscript). Glad to pass it along!

  8. I love what you said in #1, 'just BE yourself'. Priceless advice! I never realized there was so much we could learn from ghosts!

  9. I didn't realize ghosts had so much to teach us! What a fun post. I hate you, love you, hate you, love you (written while you're in LA)

  10. Heather - boy there's nowhere that illustrates that better than here at the SCBWI conference! It makes all the difference.

    Julie - I have only LOVE for you my dear. :P

  11. An an excellent paranormal writerly comparison. I really liked the advice, write what you are scared of. Hmmmn, that may open up all sorts of new possibilities...

  12. Yeah Margo!! That's exactly what it does. Frees you to new possibilities. Go forth and be frightened!!