The ghosts are an event in their back story that created the lie of false belief. So something that has happened to them changed their beliefs. Or, if it didn’t change, it set in certain stone beliefs and made it a lot harder to change their mind. That’s why ghosts create horror situations to take revenge or fulfillment their wishes.
Horror is a threat to something much deeper. That feeling of threat to the inner self, the personal self-image, or the persona we cling to. True horror comes from eroding the feeling that the world is sane, rational, and makes sense, that we have some control over it or at least some understanding of why things occur. It means that your character has to be psychically and physically vulnerable.
Horror in art, whether in games, books, television, or movies, is an empathetic experience. For horror to be effective, we must somehow feel the terror the characters are feeling. Without this, we’re left with an exposition of gore or an exercise in sadism.
Therefore, we need a vessel to experience that ghost through a protagonist we can empathize with, belief in, and even immerse ourselves in when playing rather than passively experiencing a horror. You are on the right track if you want to create a horror story or write a ghost character.
How to write a ghost character?
Ghost characters are an excellent addition to any story but ensuring that you write the characters correctly is very important. A ghost protagonist has to be vastly weaker than the horror they face.
If your military personnel is facing waves of zombies, hordes of aliens, or some cosmic horror, you must understand that you will have to work a little harder to disempower them. I’m talking about the 10 best tips for creating ghost characters for your mangas, comics, light novels, or fun. Let’s go!
1. Define bad or good ghost
When writing ghost characters, consider if they are good or bad spirits. Whether they are good or bad, ghost characters will influence how they treat the characters in your story and what they do in your story.
For example, the good ghost characters may help to provide information to your characters or help to guide them in the right direction they need to go. If you have a bad spirit character in your story, they may be working with the villains or simply causing problems and stopping your character from achieving what they want.
2. Mention the type of ghost
Decide on the type of ghost in your story. There are different categories of ghosts, and understanding these categories can help you create your ghost characters more effectively. You may only choose to have certain types of ghosts in your story, or you may decide to include all of these types of ghosts within the characters in your book. Here is a list of the different types of ghost characters you might want to include in your story:
- The first type is deceased relatives or descendants of your main character, so they may be people your character has known in the past.
- The second type of ghost is Poltergeist. They may be bad girls or good ghosts, but they are mischievous. A poltergeist can move objects, turn lights on and off, slam doors, etc. In the case of very bad Poltergeists in your story, they might be able to control or possess different characters.
- The third type of ghost is orbs or presences. These girls don’t appear physically but measure themselves as an orb, a presence, or a light. They may only be a voice in the main character’s minds, telling them where they should go next or what they should do.
- The fourth type is wandering ghosts. These girls may linger on the human plane for a certain reason. They may have a specific goal they must have filled before moving on. Also, they can be old or newer ghosts stuck on the human plane.
- The fifth type is to protect spirits. These spirits may be a designated protector or guide to your characters or multiple characters in your story.
- The sixth type is mythological spirits. They may be based on certain mythology or legends. Some of these spirits may be more mischievous, like Sprite, but they can come in many forms.
- The final type of spirit is the animal spirit. These are protected spirits because they are a symbol for your characters. The type of animals your character sees may be a particular spirit that is meaningful to your character, and they may be there to guide them in the right direction.
3. Focus on your character abilities
The next thing you want to do when you are writing ghost characters is deciding on their abilities and why they have these abilities. When writing ghost characters, usually their abilities are developed through what they did in life.
For example, if you have a character who is good at communicating with animals in life or has a strong connection with animals, they primarily choose to communicate through animals. If you have a character who was always desperate to protect the people around them in life, they have extra protective abilities. For example, they can shield people who are important to them and defend those who mean the most to them.
4. Add some ghost laws
Adding a ghost law to your story can help you avoid unrealistic spiritual activity. You don’t want to create ghost characters that are too powerful. Otherwise, they would be able to answer any problems in your story. That’s not what you want. The problems in your story help add unnecessary conflicts to push and motivate your characters to do more things in your story.
- Developing some ghost laws and giving them things that they can and cannot do will make your ghost characters a lot more realistic.
For example, Ghosts talk to anyone they choose. Can they only speak to certain people? Can your ghost characters use any abilities they would like, or do they have to limit their abilities? Are they required to avoid talking about their past? Maybe when they become a ghost, they immediately forget about who they were when they were alive.
So you must consider the ghost laws in your story when writing ghost characters. Also, it is essential when writing any supernatural character, and you must ensure that you add specific laws to prevent them from being all too powerful.
5. Add different realms
Decide if there are different ghostly planes in the world of your story. You can choose whether or not you want to include realms. Keep in mind that if you don’t have different realms in your story. That’s okay if you want to include that. However, adding different realms and planes allows you to have other locations where the ghost might reside.
For example, you may have the human and ghost levels, but there might only be certain human characters who can cross into the ghost plane and vice versa. They may only be certain ghost characters that can cross into the human plane. You may have the human realm, the in-between, and the afterlife, whatever you would like to call that. What you do with these different ghostly planes is dependent on the location.
- Different cultures and locations will make the afterlife appear in different ways.
For example, if your story is set in a specific location, such as America, viewing the way Americans view the afterlife in spirits is a good way to keep your story realistic to the time.
Wherever your story is set in the world, or whatever time it is set in, consider how that time and the people may view the afterlife in spirits. Also, decide if you want to include that aspect in your story. It can give an aspect of realism to the spirit world in your story and make it more natural when you introduce the ghost characters into your world.
6. Set a goal
Consider what is holding back your character from the afterlife. Usually, if there is a ghost character communicating with your human characters, it is because there is some reason that they cannot move on. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be communicating with your human character. So there is something tying your ghost character to the human world, and it’s up to you as the writer to figure out what is tying your ghost character to that world.
For example, there may be something they were able to fulfill in life. They may have had a dream that they were always striving towards, but they couldn’t do it. So they’re relying on your human character to fulfill that goal. Your human character is trying to help them move on from that and feel at peace with their lives. As a spirit, they want to live their life to the fullest.
Note: Consider a goal or mission for your character and think about why this goal may be tying your ghost character to the human world in such a way.
7. Give the character a strong backstory
A certain type of character with some of the most exciting histories reveals not only who they were in the past and the things they did, but also any regrets they may have that might still be connecting them to life.
Understand how they may feel about the fact that they are a spirit. What might be interesting is that your ghost character may be from a different time in history than your main character?
8. Discuss the character’s lifestyle and behaviors
Consider how their life affects their personality and perceptions of the people around them. The life of a ghost can add a lot more to their personality and perception of the world around them. For example, if your character were born in the 19th century, they would have a different perception of the people around them.
If your character grew up in a difficult or abusive situation, they might struggle to trust your human character at first because they have been hurt in the past when they have to trust other people. It considers when your ghost character was alive.
What things affect how they perceive the world and others in themselves? These are aspects that they will carry to them as a spirit. So you must ensure that you reveal these aspects of their personality and what they do in their daily lives.
9. Show the communication with human
How can characters communicate with the cast? As I mentioned, most ghosts will be on a different plane of existence if you choose to have that as an aspect of your story. Therefore it would be tough for most characters to be able to communicate with the ghosts. So you need to think about how your human characters can get on the same level as the ghost for communication to happen.
For your particular story, your human character may have to summon the ghost character somehow. Perhaps the ghost character gives them a special totem or item that can help the human character to summon them whenever they may need help. Or they have had a near-death experience in the past to communicate with the ghosts.
There are special items such as a mirror or a reflection. So it sets it up for your story to keep things realistic. So consider how your characters can communicate with the ghosts and which types of characters can have these abilities.
10. Make a relatable character’s appearance with death
Decide if their death affects their appearance. It is not always the case, but if your character was stabbed to death as a girl, they might still have a stab wound. Or, for your story, you may choose to have no ghost.
Characters reveal signs of their death in their spirit form. So consider if your character’s death affects how they look like a spirit and if it does and shows that it is integrated with their design.
Consider what the ghost character was wearing on death. It’s up to you to decide what your character wears after death. For example, your characters might keep the same outfit they wore when they passed away. How about you may also choose to have your spirit?
Characters get a different type of outfit when they move into spirit form or in your story. They may be different types of spirit ranks, and depending on the rank, your character may have a different type of outfit.
- Consider associating each ghost with a type of color.
You may also choose to associate your ghost characters with different colors. However, be warned that this can be much more difficult in a black and white manga. So if you are creating this as a manga or a book, I don’t recommend doing it for manga because it can get confusing. But if you choose to have a novel, it will be much easier to describe the colors of the ghosts. The ghost colors in your story could be associated with how they passed away.
- If your spirit character is based on certain mythology or legend, the outfit and style of dressing would likely be based on that legend.
Decide if different ranks of ghosts affect their appearance. Certain higher-ranking spirits may have various aspects to the design, such as a crown or a different embroidery on their clothes. In contrast, you may have different spirits with different appearance aspects that can help your characters tell what others may carry.
- The evil or negative spirits may have darker energy and leave traces on anything they touch. It decides what your spirit or ghost characters are if they have different rings that can affect their appearance.
Consider their abilities affect the way they look. Any ability your characters have could affect the way they look. For example, water spirits could have a watery look, meaning they have hair that looks like water. Poltergeist spirits who may be able to manipulate electricity may have electrical sparks always flying off them.
Don’t overcomplicate your ghost character. It’s simply an event, and your character has particular beliefs, and this event reinforces those specific beliefs. So you want to give your character some beliefs and then think about how you can reinforce those beliefs to the best of your ability by creating an event.
Let me know what ghost characters you’re creating because I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to share their designs with me on any of my social media because I always enjoy hearing about what you are creating.
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