Top Ten Ways To Scare People In Paranormal Fiction

As an author, I know the importance of writing what you love. I first began my writing career after a life changing experience when we encountered a paranormal entity in our home. What sounds like a horror movie became real life as we battled through this bewildering experience. When we finally came out the other side, we knew we could not let such an occurrence pass us by without sharing it with the world. After a year of writing, my true story, Paranormal Intruder was born. As a full time police officer, I was nervous about releasing it. I need not have worried, as the response was fantastic and it became an instant best seller in all three Amazon categories. Soon the writing bug bit again. I wanted to experience the thrill of writing a fiction novel infusing my personal experiences of the police and paranormal. The idea for the first of the DC Jennifer Knight series came to me one sleepless night and refused to go away. I have been asked many times by aspiring authors the correct way of approaching writing about the paranormal. I am happy to share my top ten tips with you today.

Make it authentic. I infused my personal experience of police and the paranormal to write my latest book, but if you have never experienced the supernatural then my advice is to make your writing as authentic as you can.

Master the art of suspense. Imagine you are being watched but are too afraid to turn around. Feel the hairs prickle on the back of your neck as your name is whispered in a cold empty room. If you’re struggling to find those emotions, go on a ghost hunt or read true-life accounts of the paranormal. Put yourself in the zone, and then describe exactly how you feel.

Make your writing fresh and original. If you are writing your true story then allow your readers to get to know you as a person. Opening up about a traumatic experience is not easy, but your readers will thank you for it.

Creepy Music is a terrific way of darkening your writing mood. The backdrop of Hanz Zimmer’s Batman, Inception, and other dark pieces has spurred my DC Knight series.

Make your story more authentic with a dose of reality. Your characters shouldn’t just accept what is bestowed upon them. Don’t Turn Around is primarily a crime thriller, and DC Jennifer Knight is bewildered when strange things begin to happen. When I first encountered paranormal occurrences in my home, it took me a very long time to get my police officer brain around what was happening – even though it was right before my eyes.

When the going gets tough, friends may get going – or at least find it difficult to understand how a victim of the paranormal feels. The biggest thing I found about my own experiences was the feeling of being alone. It is worth remembering that just like crime, paranormal activity affects more than one person. Like a stone being thrown into a pool of calm water, it sends shockwaves out to friends, family, and even the community. The problem comes when people don’t know how to deal with it, and shun you for fear of ‘catching’ your problem


It’s hard to believe, but parts of a paranormal investigation can actually be quite boring. There is lots of waiting around, things never show themselves when you want them to, and parts of the activity can be quite repetitive. This is where you invest in your characters. Explore their relationships with each other. Whether you write fact or fiction this is something to be explored. In my true story, I went into depth explaining how I felt about the priests and investigators that tried to help us. In the DC Knight novels, I go into a lot of depth exploring the antagonist’s character and what makes them tick. People aren’t born evil. They are made that way. Never underestimate the power of human nature when writing.

There is so much more to the paranormal genre than ghosts and ghouls. Explore every possibility, but my advice is to keep it as close to real life as possible. It’s fine to go off on a tangent when you’re writing fantasy, but most thrill seekers in the crime / paranormal genre want to read a situation that could happen to anyone. It certainly happened to me.

Find your audience. For whatever genre of paranormal you write, meet your audience. There is a huge community of paranormal enthusiasts online and there’s no excuse not to get out there and meet them. I found mine through the power of social media. It’s probably what led you to reading this very article.

A word of warning about writing about the paranormal. Once you are bitten with the writing bug it is very hard to stop. You will find your reading habits will change, and you will always be thinking ahead to what if … Embrace the darkness and enjoy!

Originally published on Female First:

Have you any writing tips? We’d love to hear from you. Comments are welcome below.

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