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in fear of a ghost

by bluesky3d 

Posted: 25 June 2003
Word Count: 100
Summary: beginners writing exercise 1

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The tingle of electricity flows through my limbs from the damp. In the darkness, I hear a sound.


‘I know it is not a ghost. I know it is not a ghost.’ I tell myself over and over.

The sweat is pouring off me, soaking into my pyjamas. Now the bed is damper still. I can’t go to sleep for fear of night terrors. I must face up to the ghost. I can’t open my eyes.

The noise. Click!

Footsteps are approaching. Then, a cool hand is on my brow.

‘What’s wrong? Why are you sweating? Are you ill?’

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Comments by other Members

Anna Reynolds at 20:34 on 25 June 2003  Report this post
Nice little story you've created in this tight word limit. And the sense of utter, unspeakable childhood terror is well done too- you've been quite disciplined and let us into the child's mind where ordinary things become extraordinary. Tell me something- was it easy thinking/feeling yourself back into this state? what really comes across is the frozen moment that seems to go on forever- the fear is real and will last forever.

A thought- how about trying not to use the same description, or maybe even the same word twice? I understand the power of repetition for example; 'I know it is not a ghost. I know it is not a ghost' and it works there, as does 'Click!', but maybe have a think about trying to use different descriptions elsewhere- 'sweating' and 'sweat', and 'I must face up to the ghost' for example, because what's powerful about the image and state you've created is the unknown shape or form the terror will take.

What's great here is how economy has made this very powerful. Had you had 500 or no word limit, it might have diluted the piece.

bluesky3d at 21:29 on 25 June 2003  Report this post
Yes, it was relatively easy to do because I was recalling something from my childhood, a real incident.

And yes, when I read it back, I could almost feel the same emotions. That was how I knew it worked for me. Whether it works for other people is more difficult to know.

That is why this feedback is invaluable. THank you very much.

Yes, I used the same words twice deliberately.

Knowing that I had only a hundred words did not put me off doing that in this instant, because the effect was worth it.

If one had used 'click!' and the 'clunk!' it would for some reason have been comical, and not scary. Don't ask me why, I am not a psychologist.

I did use different words for instance 'I hear a sound.

Click!' and then ... 'The noise. Click!'

And as for 'sweating' and 'sweat' there is something about the word 'sweat' that an alternative word like 'perspiration' does not quite achieve, but I agree normally, it is bad form to use the same word twice in the same paragraph or within five lines. I hope I don't end up breaking too many rules.

A :o)

bluesky3d at 21:54 on 25 June 2003  Report this post
By the way, perhaps I should explain, the electricity, was that from an electric blanket, which against all the rules used to be left on, because the room was so damp (pre central heating days).

The 'clicks', I only came to realise much later, were from the light switch on the party wall in the neighbough's terraced house, when they went to bed.

And of course the footsteps and the hand on my brow was my mother's hand, and the voice my mother, at the end.

So it wasn't a real ghost after all!


A :o)

LONGJON at 01:05 on 30 June 2003  Report this post
Recalling childhood through a childs eyes, ears and mind is not easy is it. Well done.
I used to live in a terrace house in SE London, know exactly what you mean. Do you remember the ice on the inside of the windows in the winter? In badly lit streets, bedrooms could be very dark eh?

John P.

Boo at 14:42 on 01 July 2003  Report this post
This is truly magical the way you have recreated the ghost incident.I now understand fully about the 'childs voice'.

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