How to write about things that go bump in the night GUEST POST from Kath McGurl
Today I’m delighted to hand my blog over to Kath McGurl. Kath and I have never met but over the last 12 months I have become aware of just how much support and valuable information she gives to emerging writers through her blog.
She has just published a unique writing guide that includes ghost stories that have been published in magazines like Take A Break alongside no-nonsense guide on how to write them. Here Kath tells how it all happened.
Ghost Stories and How to Write Them was born on a Friday evening at around 5.15pm. I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home (in the IT industry) so within five minutes of switching off my work PC I was curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea and the latest edition of Writers’ Forum magazine.
While browsing through the readers’ letters and news snippets an idea pinged into my head – for a ghost story book which was part anthology and part How To. My eyes may have been still staring at the Writers’ Forum pages but I was no longer seeing them. Many writers will know that feeling – being grabbed so fiercely by an idea that you can think of nothing else. You just have to get the bones of it written down immediately. The kids went hungry, him indoors moped off to the pub by himself, while I stayed up all night writing, pausing only to refill my coffee cup…
Actually that’s not true. On Friday evenings we always go to the pub, and leave our teenage sons to cook us a meal (good preparation for when they leave home – we make the sacrifice, ahem, so they learn to be independent) That Friday was no exception. We went to the pub, and over a pint of Guinness I outlined the idea to my husband. He’s not a writer but he liked the sound of it, and the more I talked the more it took shape. Back home, after dinner (well done, boys) I took a notebook and jotted down the outline of the book.
I had in mind it would take me a couple of months to complete, and was worried it’d slow down progress on my novel. But when I began writing it (the next day) I found the book simply poured out of me. I chose the set of stories I wanted to include, and worked out how to chain them together with relevant discussions between each one.
I included sections on story arc, story structure, settings, characters. Then the things particular to ghost stories – types of ghost story, how to make your ghosts believable, discussion on why ghost stories are ever popular. My own stories, most of which have been previously published in women’s magazines, served as examples of what I wanted to say. Who knew I had so much to say about ghost stories?!
The first draft was completed in a ridiculously short five days. It took much longer to edit it, find out how to publish on Kindle, find a cover image, and format the book correctly. Writing and publishing this little book has been loads of fun and I’m delighted with the way it’s been received. I hope everyone enjoys it and that it helps other writers get their ghost stories published.
Now then, I’ve an idea for a new ghost story. Time to sign off this blog post and go write it…
I featured Kathleen McGurl’s Womagwriter blog on Safari Friday back in April and you can read what I said HERE.
Kath lives in Bournemouth with her husband and teenage sons. She always wanted to write, and for many years was waiting until she had the time. Eventually she came to the bitter realisation that no one would pay her for a year off work to write a book, so she sat down and started to write one anyway. Since then she has sold dozens of short stories to women’s magazines. These days she is concentrating on longer fiction, and is currently completing her second full length novel. She works full time in the IT industry and when she’s not writing, she’s often out running, slowly. GHOST STORIES and How to Write Them is available as a Kindle ebook at £1.53. Click HERE to go to Amazon