by Casey Bottono

Our most recent Young Writers workshop found participants exploring ghost stories and using their skills to shape their own chilling tales. This group was made up mostly of new students who form the cohort of mentees for the 2023 Young Writers Mentoring Programme.

We began with a discussion of classic ghost and horror stories, including Dracula and Frankenstein. There can be no question that ghost stories and horror stories remain as popular as ever – when we discussed why this might be, some participants said that they enjoyed the creepy feeling that comes with such stories.

The participants’ first exercise was to make a list of things that frighten them. This was followed by another list of things we can be haunted by that aren’t ghosts or supernatural elements.

Rather than focusing on character as a starting point, we instead decided to focus on setting, offering participants a choice between six different time periods their stories could take place within.

The Victorian Gothic proved popular and full of potential, as did post-war narratives.

We gave the participants the choice of setting their stories in several different locations, and moorland was one of the most popular choices. The young people weren’t constrained by the choices of location on offer, and managed to craft some thrilling stories.

The purpose of the workshop was to give a foundation for a ghost story that they might want to continue working on. This was accomplished step by step, leading to well-rounded characters with their own foibles and motivations.

The central mysteries and plot twists that the students wove in showed their skill in the craft of writing and their love for it as well.

We look forward to exploring dystopian/fantasy fiction in the forthcoming December workshop, which will take place on Zoom on Saturday 10th December between 10:00am and 12:00pm – booking information can be found here