Ghost Writing

Claire Gallagher

Claire Gallagher | March 19, 2024

Ghost Writing



I’ve been a tad disingenuous with this title because I’m not referring to the act of writing on behalf of others, but rather the literal act of writing about ghosts! Trick, or treat?

Of course, there are many ghost stories, especially in the horror genre, but I’ve selected a few from other genres to list here:

Beloved a former slave is haunted by the child she felt forced to kill

Wuthering Heights – literally a haunting love story

The Graveyard Book – a boy is raised by ghosts (inspired by The Jungle Book)

A Christmas Carol – four ghosts attempt to teach Ebenezer Scrooge the error of his ways


Why Do We Love Ghost Stories?

In terms of horror, well, sometimes it’s fun to be frightened! When we’re scared but not actually in danger, apparently our endorphin levels increase. Ghost stories and horror movies provide that thrill of fear while assuring us of our safety.

But what about when there are ghosts in other genres? Why have the authors chosen to tell their story in this way? What does it allow them to do which can’t be done by sticking to writing about the living?

Perhaps it’s the gravitas that can be achieved by provoking thought about human existence. Perhaps it’s the ‘outsider’ perspective that can be offered. Perhaps it’s because, sometimes, we want to feel melancholy, to have an outlet for our emotions. Or perhaps it’s something else entirely.



It’s not a spoiler to say that my novel, Daisy Roberts is Dead, is a love story written from the perspective of a ghost. In a way, I found this book easy to write – I love thinking about the ‘big picture’ of life, what’s beautiful about it, what we’d miss if we could no longer experience the joy of it.

On the other hand, writing a character who can’t interact with many of the other characters in the story was a unique challenge. Daisy is largely an observer of events rather than a protagonist with agency. She reacts to what’s going on around her, but can rarely intercede. And believe me, producing 80,000 words of this has its restrictions! I like to think that the novel is saved by Daisy’s interactions with her ghost-friends, but, as always, it’s up to the reader to decide if I’ve been successful.


Final Thoughts

What are your favourite ghost stories (horror or otherwise)?

What is it about these stories that enthrals you?

What are the freedoms and limitations of stories with ghost characters?

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