A compelling ghost story
Question: I am trying to write a young adult supernatural/gothic ghost story. But that's as far as my mind goes - a young adult supernatural ghost story. Might as well stop at young adult. Here's the thing, I was a teenager only three years ago and yet all my 'teenage knowledge banks' have dried up. I can't for the life of me write something genuinely 'teen-aged', 'scary' and 'supernatural' without sounding like the big ol' cliche monster coughing up pieces of half-read 'Twilight', 'The Summoning' and any teenage why-my-life-sucks series. And worst of all I feel that everything in the supernatural genre is cliche that I can't find the originality in vampires or aliens (my preferred choice of uncanny monsters - heck, even mermaids are on that list) that I have resorted to a choice (ghosts) that I can't seem to conjure well even out of pure interests. And now, my interest has dwindled. Any tips to fuel my interests and help with this? Answer:
Yes Stop trying to write a story like the stories you've read -- with all their cliches -- and write something that matters to you.
Try to find a character who you can fall in love with. Not a generic teen but a unique person with a personality that resonates with
you. Perhaps make their age secondary. Don't give them cliched concerns. Give them concerns and traits that are theirs alone. Make their situation uniquely theirs.
Look for a story concept that you can feel deeply about. Write the story you wish someone would write.
Why are all these monsters in YA fiction interchangeable? Because they symbolize the same type of primal emotion. And yet, in the best stories, they are not interchangeable. The emotion behind a ghost is different than what underlies a werewolf or an alien. One writer's vampires are different from another's vampires because they mean something profoundly different to each writer -- because each writer has a different perspective and a different set of feelings.
You might try asking yourself what's wrong with all the cliched and trite stories you've read. Why do they fail to touch you deeply?
Then look for a story idea that does strike you as profound, that is completely different from anything you've read before, that you can connect with deeply.
Another tip: take the worst cliche you know, one that you absolutely hate, and try to write a story concept that completely reverses it or spins it in a new direction. See if that idea awakens strong emotions in you. If so, you may be on the right track.