The Other Side of Haunting: Behind the Story
Haven't read THE OTHER SIDE OF HAUNTING yet? This post contains several spoilers, so make sure to read the story first!
Link to the story: Amazon
Here will be a welcome change, I knew what this story was going to be about before I began it! Amazing, right? I mean I'm the guy who always just goes for it. Oh, you really aren't all that thrilled about it? Sorry, I guess it's just me.
So this story came to me in a few separate parts that I then put together. The first part that came to me was pretty much the opening lines of the story as they are now, where someone calls a girl a complete bitch while he watches her bury him. That basically came about by me simply trying to make a shocking first line, and calling someone a bitch can always be pretty shocking. But I felt the need to justify saying such a thing, so I naturally figured that if someone murdered you, you'd be more than justified to call them whatever you wished.
I had that opening line, but I had no clue what to do with it, so I let it stew in the back of my head. It was pretty obvious it'd be a ghost story, maybe of the fly on the wall variety as he watched her try to get away with it, but for some reason that didn't appeal to me all that much. The second element that came in and allowed me to write this story as it is came from something I was watching on TV. I'd really like to tell you what it was, but I can't remember; I was just flipping through channels at my parents' house while I waited for them to get their old butts in gear—Love you, Mom! Anyways, whatever it was, the person was only in danger from the supernatural thing if they were scared of it. It's not a concept I haven't heard of before, I've seen most of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, which have a basically identical concept, but because I'd had that ghost story line ruminating in the back of my mind, I instantly connected them together. Most stories of that nature are told from the live person's perspective, trying to conquer the ghost or whatever it is that's after them. With the first line I already had, and this set up of fear fueling power, I realized that I could write a story from the ghost's point of view as he tried to put that fright into his victim, to build his power so that he could have his revenge.
And so when I finally set down to write it, I knew exactly what it would be about. I also knew that I wanted to write it in first person, present tense for several different reasons. The first of which was simply that that's how the first line came into my head, and I liked the way that "she murdered me" sounded. The second was that I wanted the reader to be fully relating to the ghost, instead of possibly vacillating between the two characters. And the third reason was that it is, to me, an unnatural tense—referring to the present tense part here. Stories are things that happened, as in in the past, so the most natural way those stories are told is in past tense. There has been a recent surge in the use of present tense, a very famous example being The Hunger Games, but by and large it's still something that you won't see all that often. This being a ghost story told from the ghost's perspective, it was taking place in a very unnatural setting, so I wanted that unnatural feel of the prose that present tense would help to lend.
So the story went along, much scaring, much screaming, what I didn't know, though, was how it was going to end. Hey, at least I knew what it was going to be about this time! The obvious answer would be to have him simply kill her and float away into peace. And that's why I didn't use it, it was too god damn obvious. For a brief moment I did consider playing it straight, ending it in that expected way, but the only reason I considered it was because I don't want to be a one-trick-pony, the M. Night Shyamalan of books. I have a reputation for putting twists in most of my endings, so I wondered if I needed to do something to help head off that trope before it could really take hold. In the end, I had to do what I thought would make the best story, as I think every writer should always do. Maybe I'm addicted to twists, so sue me, but I want my readers to really be curious as to how things are going to turn out.
Alternate endings I considered: 1.) He kills her, she becomes a ghost, too, and they have a kick ass battle or they're stuck together forever. 2.) He doesn't kill her, helps her get away with his murder, but spends the rest of her life making her go bat shit crazy until she finally kills herself. 3.) It turns out he wasn't dead yet and is still being stabbed by her, and he fantasied the entire ghost thing. 4.) It turns out that she didn't kill him at all, that he murdered her. Yeah, that last one would have been really tricky, I'm still not sure how I would have worked it out, but that's how things go sometimes.
So that's my story. It's brutal, but it's mine. Oh, you might be wondering what happens next, after he discovers himself in Amy's body, and I'm sure that if you've read these things before, you're expecting me to tell you to figure it out on your own. Well, here's another twist ending! I don't know when I'll get around to it, but I'm actually planning on writing a sequel to this little story, cause I actually do know what's going to happen. I mean, he's in deep shit at the moment, what with his new girly body being all banged up and there being a dead body in the back yard. I didn't add what comes next into this story for two reasons: one, I didn't want it to drag out into one of my usual novellas. Two, it's a completely separate, yet related story, with a different tone.
And so that's that. The moral of the story? Listen to your mom.