Top 10 Things to Keep in Mind when Writing About Ghosts

My upcoming book They Stay is about ghosts. I spent two years designing, implementing, and writing about my ghost world, and so I learned a lot about how to worldbuild using ghosts.

This is a list of the 10 most important questions you need to ask yourself when building a ghost world. There are many different types of worlds you can build involving ghosts. You can write a horror story about ghosts who terrorize a family. You can write a story similar to Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Bookwhere the ghosts are friends to your main characters. You can write a story where ghosts are an allegory for mental illness or another type of trauma. Before you even get into this list of questions, you need to figure out what you want the purpose of your ghosts to be because that is going to inform your answers to the rest of these questions.

The more readers know about your ghosts, the less scary your ghosts will be to them. Creating a cast of terrifying ghosts requires you to make your characters powerless against them and ignorant of how your ghosts function, and make your ghosts powerful and able to do brutal things to your characters. If you want your ghosts to be friends, write them as you would any other character. Regardless of how much information you want to give your readers about your ghost, here are the top 10 questions you need to answer about your ghost world before writing.

  1. Do ghosts stay on earth forever after dying?

Or do they fade away? Is the earth populated with the ghosts of everyone who has ever died roaming around everyone who is currently living? Or do they go somewhere else?

  1. Does everyone become a ghost?

 Are there just some people who don’t become ghosts? What determines whether or not you are going to become a ghost?

  1. Does becoming a ghost change the way you act?

 In a lot of horror movies, ghosts can act pretty erratically. Do only erratic people get turned into ghosts? Or does being a ghost take your normal brain and twist it into an erratic version of itself?

  1. What is life like as a ghost? Is it miserable? Is it ok?

Having to live a miserable existence would make my brain pretty twisted, to be honest.

  1. Can ghosts move through things?

If so, are there any materials that they can’t move through?

  1. Do ghosts retain their physical appearance on earth, when dead?

 If they died in a house fire, does their ghost look all burnt? Do they take on the physicality that they had at their Prime? Do they look like the age they were at when they died?

  1. Can ghosts affect the physical world?

 Can ghosts kill people? Can ghosts make books all off of shelves? Or do they just pass through stuff? What kind of ghosts can affect the physical world, and what kind of ghosts aren’t?

  1. Can anything kill, deter, or summon ghosts?

 Does salt or iron deter ghosts? Are there any incantations or weird spells that can summon ghosts? Do Ouija boards work?

  1. Can ghosts move everywhere or are they bound someplace?

 Are ghosts bound to objects that were important to them in real life? if you get rid of that object, does it get rid of the ghost? If you move the object, does the ghost move with it?

  1. Is there a place where ghosts go after they become ghosts? Do they stay ghosts until the end of time?

Does an afterlife exist? If so, what does it look like? Do all ghosts go there, or do only the people who are rejected from the afterlife become ghosts?

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, I have made a YouTube video about worldbuilding with ghosts which can be found here. I run a YouTube channel called Write with Claire Fraise  where I share specific and actionable writing tips that helped me make my own writing better.

They Stay
Claire Fraise
(They Stay Series, #1)
Publication date: October 12th 2021
Genres: Supernatural, Thriller, Young Adult

For fans of Stranger Things comes a suspenseful YA mystery about a missing kid, a girl who can see ghosts, and a horrifying crime only four outcasts have the power to stop.

What if the only person who could help you find your missing brother was dead?

Nothing is as important to sixteen-year-old Shiloh Oleson as her little brother Max. So when the six-year-old goes missing without a trace, a heartbroken Shiloh refuses to believe nothing can be done and sets out to find him.

When one of Shiloh’s classmates says she knows where Max is, Shiloh hesitates to believe her. Francesca is creepy. She says she can see ghosts, but everyone knows ghosts aren’t real … right?

But Francesca says that Max is going to be murdered.

And a ghost told her where he is.

As the line between the dead and living begins to blur, Shiloh starts to think Francesca might not be as crazy as she believed. One thing is becoming clear. Someone has gruesome plans for Max, and Shiloh must confront her worst nightmares to find him before it’s too late.

THEY STAY is the first book in the They Stay Series. Read on if you like ghost stories, plot twists, enemies-to-friends, creepy circuses, budding romance, and unlikely heroes.

Content Warnings: This book contains death, kidnapping, domestic abuse, references to suicide, bullying, and mild adult language.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo


Author Bio:

Claire Fraise earned her B.A. in English from Tufts University. She is also the author of YA dystopian novel Imperfect (winner of the San Francisco and Beverly Hills Book Festivals), which she published when she was 16. When Claire’s not writing, she likes crocheting amigurumi animals, reading, and hanging out with her dogs. Even though it goes against every introverted bone in her body, she is on social media. Connect with her on Instagram at @clairefraiseauthor, on YouTube at Write with Claire Fraise, or visit her website at

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  1. Giselle says:

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