How Should You Tell A Compelling Ghost Story?

Let me paint you a picture, a ghastly cemetery, cold air, the night sky filled with stars and a full moon, the wind whistling and you are all alone or not. Did that give you chills down your spine? Did that make you look around? Do you feel like being watched? Most of us might have felt the same way or the other. You might say that it wasn’t a vivid picture so not much to imagine there or you might be freaking out because you have an elaborate imagination. If not you might just be a ghost, spirit, supernatural entity reading this, thinking That’s just where I live’ (pun intended).

Some are strong believers in the paranormal being and some dismiss the thought altogether. It’s a personal choice but everyone has at least heard stories about them or have had personal experiences and lived to tell the tale. None the less it’s always thrilling to listen to ‘ghost stories’ as they are most popularly termed. Exposure to this topic can happen at any age. It might happen as early as your childhood or later on in life.

You might have heard them from your family, friends, TV shows, books, or online. But the one thing that remains constant in all the sources is how it’s been told. Cooking up a story is as easy as boiling water, but to keep a person interested in the story is definitely like making biriyani ( trust me when I tell you it’s really hard, and apologies for making you hungry). Ghost stories have a specific time and place. You can’t be sitting in a kid’s birthday party and start whipping out creepy stories unless you want to make kids cry (PS: Don’t do it)

Let me tell you the important things to keep in mind while telling a ghost story and maybe I’ll slip one in the end too. Why am I giving advice on this? Do I have any qualifications to do so? Well, the answer is no. I’m not an expert but I have heard my share of paranormal stories, watched a lot of horror movies, and read a few good books on the same. It might not be your ultimate guide to scare people but I’m pretty sure that you will be the most interesting person while telling the story next time.


When do you tell a ghost story? Mostly it works best if you do it at night. It works best as the natural surroundings act to your advantage. Its dark most people are asleep and your mind is sure to play tricks on you. You might start seeing things or hearing sounds in the silence. A popular idea that has been spread is that all the forces (not the ones in physics) have more energy during the night or in the dark. It is no rule that you will have fun only in the night but darkness can give you the edge when you tell a ghost story.


There is no place where your stories will be the most effective but someplace isolated. Maybe at a sleepover, at camps, on a long drive, on a trip; these places are your support system in telling a good story. When you have your friends and family around and you know that a ghost story will lighten the mood and bring everyone together that’s where is the perfect place.


Now that the place and time have been chosen, the question is how to tell a ghost story? For starters always give a disclaimer, like say ‘It’s a personal experience’ or ‘I know you don’t believe in ghosts but here is a story’ or something like that. Engage all the senses when it comes to the story, talk about what you see, hear, feel, and smell along with what was your role in the story. You might be a spectator or the main person but be very clear when you tell the story. Repeating is no fun; twist and turns are always welcome but keep the plot simple and interesting.

Always remember to have a good ending or a suspenseful one, as it leaves a lasting impression on the people who have heard your story. It doesn’t have to be a positive one but something that will linger on in the person’s mind. Few stories have a scary or creepy impact, some leave a lesson in the end and some leave the receiver thinking and wondering about it. None the less a story always brings people from all generations and backgrounds together.

And finally here’s a personal story, hope you like it………

This incident took place when I was very young; around 5 or 6 years of age. We lived in the outskirts of the city which had fewer houses in the area. I lived in a duplex and it had a stairways with a huge glass window on its way up.

It was a winter night almost past midnight. I woke up feeling thirsty but there wasn’t any water in the room. I had to go the kitchen to get water. It was not as dark, as the moonlight shined through the window and illuminated the living room. In my sleepy state unaware of what is about to happen, I walk to the kitchen and helped myself with a glass of water. Feeling better I started making my way from the kitchen to the dining area then I reached the living room.

Then something strange happened; it felt as though a pair of eyes were on me, watching every step. My initial thoughts wasn’t fear but mostly curiosity and I turned back. As I looked around in the living room and found nothing out of the ordinary. I gazed towards the window and I saw my doll. It was a life-size, soft toy doll. It is almost impossible for it to be sitting above the stairs without any support. I didn’t think about it then but now it is something out of a horror movie.

As I made my way towards the bedroom without realizing what was happening, I heard a shuffle. As I turned back to the sound, the doll had made its way in between the stairs. It was my favorite toy; I made my way towards the room. Just as I entered the room, I peeked outside to see if the doll was still there. I found it lying on the ground beneath the stairs; I didn’t think for a split second and ran towards my mother hugging her. It woke her up. She asked if I was alright? Telling her it was a nightmare, I fell asleep.

The next morning I had no recollection of the incident as I slept peacefully. But when I made my way towards the living room, I saw my doll on the swing set next to the stairs. On asking my mother, I found out that it was on the floor since morning. I narrated everything had happened. My mother assured me that I might have just had a nightmare.

To this date, the memory of this night is very vivid in my head. Thinking back about always sends shivers down my spine. Did it actually happen? Was it all just a nightmare? Was it something supernatural? I guess we will never know …….

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