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Rendering the Paranormal... As Told by a Ghost Hunter

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spacer.png My wife is a paranormal investigator and works for a company that runs ghost hunting events...

The last three weeks have been interesting for sure. I took my kids on vacation, which resulted in me taking a vacation from writing. I enjoyed being unplugged from my keyboard and so did my kids. In this newly found freedom from the keyboard, my wife approached me with, “Hey, I need some help at work. Do you want to come?” My wife is a paranormal investigator and works for a company that runs ghost hunting events. I have gone with her before but this time it felt different. My creative juices started to flow. So, we left to first stay at an abandoned asylum and then at a historical landmark on the East Coast. 

For those of us who have experienced an unusual or paranormal experience, we may have contradictory feelings about whether or not we should tell other people about it or whether or not we should keep it to ourselves. It may be quite cathartic to share your tale, and many individuals have found that writing about their experiences with the supernatural inspires amazement and intrigue in readers who like reading about the paranormal. 

To explain a supernatural experience, however, requires more than just asserting that the doll moved on its own, as some people have done. In order for your audience to follow along and be attracted by what you have to say, you will need to structure your account like a tale with a beginning, middle, and ending. In the case that these occurrences did in fact take place, the task at hand is best approached in the manner of a memoir, which requires creative skill. In light of this, the following are some pointers for writing about genuine paranormal experiences: 

1. The tone and the atmosphere 

There is a strong emphasis on atmosphere in scary stories. Even while some supernatural tales may have comedic or humorous parts woven into them, the general tone and atmosphere of the story should be solemn in order to have the creepiest possible impact. Your narrative should be filled with an eerie, bizarre, and terrifying atmosphere, but it shouldn't be so dramatic that the events come across as funny, disruptive, or incomprehensible. There is a very thin line that separates campy from creepy. It is helpful to read your tale out loud in order to get a sense of where your writing is taking you. A compelling tale is one that is bizarre yet realistic. 

2. Exhibit and explain 

The piece of advice "show, don't tell" is perhaps one of the most poorly phrased pieces of guidance given to writers. A more useful piece of guidance would be to "primarily show, but tell sometimes." This is especially important to keep in mind while writing about interactions with the otherworldly. When should one give a description, and when should one show? Please fill us in on what transpired. When discussing the real supernatural occurrence, be sure to provide specific facts. It is not necessary to use metaphors or other flowery language in this context. Keep your statements simple and to the point. These parts of your tale shouldn't leave anyone scratching their heads. Describe to us how you were feeling. Although the presentation of your information must never be muddled, it is OK for you to be confused. Perhaps not all of your readers have had experiences with the supernatural, but all of us have felt things like fear, rage, loneliness, despair, and so on. Because of this, it is essential to incorporate a human dimension. It's possible that the reader would never believe in what terrified you, but if you can convince them that you were afraid, then you've already achieved your goal. 

3. Use all five senses 

You are familiar with the five senses: touch, smell, sound, and taste. These five senses are essential. Use them. The more you do, the more genuine and interesting your work will appear to the reader. The use of the senses is very effective when describing a location, establishing an atmosphere, providing information to the reader, or demonstrating to the audience how you feel about something. So, explain how the temperature dropped or raised, talk about the tapping in the walls, describe the shadow or the orbs slinking around the room, the lavender perfume in the master bedroom, or the strange taste that you get when you inhale the dust kicked up from your feet.  

4. When you get to the scary part, slow down. 

Take some time to reflect on your experience. Write down if there is a significant emotion attached to it. When writing about real-life paranormal encounters, do not simply describe how inanimate objects moved on their own without mentioning anything else. Describe the situation...all of it.  

So, there you have it. My four tips for writing about a paranormal experience from a person that has had paranormal experiences. Please add that sense of reality to your tales. I know it is so much simpler to suspend one's disbelief in a narrative that took place on the other side of the world but once you have that experience, the other side isn’t that far away. 

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