Based in Brooklyn, NY, I write about all things creepy and strange. My book based on the real haunting of Doris Bither (The Entity 1982 movie) will be released soon. Got a question? Drop me a line.

So I’ve decided to take on the monumental task of writing a book. Let me tell you, it really takes a lot of discipline and concentration.
writerI’ve been working on research and writing the layout of the book for the past few months. Everything is going smoothly (or as smooth as I can expect) except for one thing. While working on a certain section of the book, I often find myself either finishing a paragraph or chapter and then scratching it all out and tearing the paper into pieces. When I do complete a section of the book I read through it and I ask myself: “What makes for a good paranormal book?”

Sure I can put together a 200-300 page book about any paranormal story, listing facts, names, proof and pictures and call it a day; but what really makes the creation stand out? I’ve scrapped so many “chapter ones” that it’s not even funny. I’ll find myself getting too technical with the writing that it starts to deviate from the story line. Or at times I find myself writing in a non-fluid motion. As if making a quick news post here on Ghost Theory.

I’ve read a few books in the last couple of months. I’ve re-read classic best-sellers as well. Just to get an idea as to what people tend to like in a horror/paranormal story. The bottom line is that there isn’t a single way of writing a book. Being too technical might be interesting to those who are in the know, but for the rest, it will be boring. The same can be said for the opposite scenario. I think that using less “technical jargon” would be ideal since this is all about story telling.

The bottom line is to not lie or superimpose outrageous scenarios. I’m doing my diligent work and cross referencing all claims. I’m checking county records for supposed witnesses and places, tracking and interviewing said witnesses as well.

I’ve decided to present the story and evidence as is, and not try to proselytize the reader into thinking one way or the other. The main focus on the book is to tell the story, while presenting facts (and fallacies for that matter) all the while grabbing the reader’s attention. A fluid storyline. If that means that I should use very little technical or philosophical analogies, then so be it.

So my question to you is: What makes for a good paranormal book?

  • BC

    Make us care about the characters. Also, have you read The Exorcist? That’s pretty much the only book that I’ve found truly terrifying. Actually, the film is also the only movie that I find genuinely disturbing. Perhaps some lessons could be gleaned from it on how to write an effective paranormal book. Good luck!
    ps
    Maybe you should try a script?

  • Peter

    Reading your post and then BC’s comment I am not sure of what the nature of your book will be. Are you writing fiction or non-fiction? My guess was non-fiction and if you are my advice would be to experience stuff yourself. I could’nt care less about events from the past that have been described by other people already. Unless those events happened over 75 years ago, that makes them interesting again.
    If I were you I would go and contact the people who submit their stories to Ghosttheory and meet up with them and to try to experience what they claim is happening to them. Honest first hand experiences, if you are not convinced tell it as it is, if you are than it will be that more impressive. Go out there and experience these things, collect evidence or the lack of it and later on write a book about it. Rising above the level of hearsay I guess is what it’s about.

  • jbondo

    Javier,

    Sometimes it can be downright crazy writing a book. I am currently writing a layout for a book as well as researching to learn how to write screenplays. You’d be surprised at how specific a screenplay has to be formatted.

    My problem is that I have grammar breakdowns. I can write well for days and then it’s suddenly like I know nothing of structure at all. I also suffer from blanking on words. That really bothers me.

    I say go with your gut and write what you are interested in or what really intrigues you. Finally, get a good editing done and at least two people to read the manuscript. Make sure these are people that will tell you the truth.

    I wish you the best in your endeavor.

  • Thanks for the tips guys.

    jbondo, I have the same issues at times when I write (blanking on words). What I do is keep on writing anyways and use simplistic words as a place holder. Then I go back and elaborate more. I either change the word completely, or extrapolate on the point. works for me!

    -Javier

  • What kind of paranormal book are you writing? Fiction or non? That will affect your approach a lot. I sort of got the sense as I read your post it’s more non, but…what do I know?

    However, if it’s fiction, the best advice I ever got was when I attended one of Donald Maass’s Breakout Novel seminars. He emphasized keep the action moving. Your characters should always be doing (and whatever they’re doing, even if it’s just chatting over coffee) should be moving the plot forward. OH…and conflict. That was the other best advice. There should be layer upon layer of conflict.

    Not sure how this would translate to non-fiction, though. So my two cents may have been as worthless as, well…two cents!

  • willy skram
  • Thanks for the tips guys.

    I’m working on the Doris Bither case. A lot of info was left out, so the book is going to concentrate on the background going ons…

    -Javier

  • Justin

    Good luck Javier! If you’re writing a non-fiction book, just present the facts and let the people decide. I know I get annoyed when the author is trying to sway me one way or another, for then the book becomes biased. I think this is why Coast to Coast AM is such a successful (and interesting) radio program. Most of the time they just put the facts out there and let the audience decide what to believe. Nonetheless, I wish you the best!