Ghost Stories – That First Sentence

I am in the process of editing my ghost novel and was in need of some inspiration.  That very first line is particularly important as it sets the scene and mood of the entire story.

Here are some of my favourites;

* This House is Haunted by John Boyne (Book I am currently reading) – ‘I blame Charles Dickens for the death of my father.’

(Perhaps the most interesting start I have read in a while)

* Hell House by Richard Matheson‘It had been raining since five o’clock that morning.’

* The Ghost Writer by John Harwood ‘I first saw the photograph on a hot January afternoon in my mother’s bedroom.’

* The Séance by John Harwood – ‘If my sister Alma had lived, I should never have begun the séances.’

* The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – ‘No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.’

* The Turning by Francine Prose – ‘Dear Sophie, I’m afraid this is going to sound crazy.’

* Susan Hill

– The Man in the Picture: ‘The story was told to me by my old tutor, Theo Parmitter, as we sat beside the fire in his college rooms one bitterly cold January night.’

– Dolly: ‘An autumn night and the fens stretch for miles, open and still.’

The Small Hand: ‘It was a little before nine o’clock, the sun was setting into a bank of smoky violet cloud and I had lost my way.’

The Woman in Black: ‘It was nine thirty on Christmas Eve.’

* Charles Dickens

– A Christmas Carol: ‘Marley was dead, to begin with.’

The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain: ‘Everybody said so.’

English: Frontispiece of "The Haunted Man...

English: Frontispiece of “The Haunted Man” by Charles Dickens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Favourite Ghost Stories

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For those of you that like to read a ghost story in the middle of the night, all alone and even though you are frightened and want to stop reading you just can’t…this list of recommendations is just for you!

5) Ring by Koji Suzuki – The movie scared me and so did the book.

4) The Ghost Writer by John Harwood – You almost forget that this is a ghost story for the first part of the book and just enjoy the interesting plot but then all of a sudden you are hit with scariness.  Harwood builds the suspense perfectly.  I also recommend his other ghost story The Seance. 

3) The Turn of the Screw by Henry James – A classic, short but creepy tale.  Leaves you thinking about what happened for a while.

2)  Everything’s Eventual by Stephen King – This is my favourite of Stephen King’s short story collaboration.  There are some scary tales in this book.  I particularly liked ‘Autopsy Room 4‘ and ‘1408’.

1) The Woman in Black by Susan Hill – I read this when I was by myself at the edge of a forest in Germany.  I was so scared that I had to finish it off in the day time.  Okay so it may have been the circumstances that made it so terrifying the first time but it still gives me chills each time I read it and Susan Hill is the queen of the ghost story, one of my favourite authors.