Thursday, 3 October 2013

It's All Been Done? by Melissa MacVicar

Does anyone else remember this song? Back in 1998, the Barenaked Ladies released it as the follow up to their wildly popular hit One Week. Sometimes, when I’m trying to think up an original idea for a plot or a character or even a little bit of description, this song starts running through my head. And when I think about coming up with new ways to depict haunting and horror in my novels, this song seems even more apropos. Has it really all been done? Truly, coming up with creepy new things for my ghosts and spirits to do is a serious struggle. I’m sure the rest of you horror-type writers will agree.

One of the things my editor charged me with during edits on EVER NEAR was creating some unique things for my ghosts to do. She wanted me to push myself to make my ghost characters one-of-a-kind and horrid in their own very special ghostly ways. After all, ghosts are one of those things that may in fact have all been done before.

So what was a ghost writer like me to do? (ha, did you catch that play on words) Well, I took to my e-reader and downloaded a boatload of books—ones with ghosts that were currently chilling the hearts of readers everywhere. Of course, this wasn’t so I could copy them; I was looking for original ideas after all. No, this was to get my own creative juices flowing, and I am happy to say it worked. I was able to imagine some gloriously new effects for the ghosts in my novel.

One of the particularly memorable ghosts I read was Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood. In one scene, the main character meets Anna and describes how her hair floats off of her head like strings of black seaweed resting on the surface of water. That one little detail freaked me out and stuck with me more than all the blood I think. Just imagining Anna coming toward me with her hair like that—Eek! Sometimes, it’s the littlest details that mean the most to a reader.

So next time you’re struggling and feeling like it really has all been done, don’t fear and fret. Look to some good books and the power of your own imagination and you’ll figure out something truly original to add to your spirit characters. I know I did. You could even check out EVER NEAR on sale at the links listed below, and please visit me online at or my author Facebook page Melissa MacVicar to tell me what you think about this topic.

About the Author

Melissa MacVicar has lived most of her life on Nantucket Island. A true native, she's able to trace her ancestry back to the island's first settlers. After attending The Pingree School, she went on to graduate from Franklin and Marshall College with a degree in English. She also received a master's degree from Boston University School of Social Work. When she turned forty, Melissa decided to renew her adolescent passion for fiction writing. Having once thought writing a novel to be an impossible dream, she's proud to be achieving her childhood ambition.

Melissa currently lives with her husband and two children on Nantucket where she teaches 7th grade Writing Composition. When she isn't teaching, parenting, and writing, Melissa enjoys eating expensive chocolate, jogging, and watching her beloved Patriots. You can find her online at

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  1. Ooohh ... I love a good ghost story!!! If I had the chance to name a ghost character it would be Boneless Betty. Just think of all the possibilities!

  2. Thanks for having me on the blog! I love the idea of Boneless Betty, too, Literary RR!

  3. I would call her Millie. That's an 800 ghost from Piers Anthony's book Castle Roogna

  4. Whispy Winters hehe I have no clue...Soulless Suzy!!
    Kaci Guis.Harrison

  5. Great post! And yes, I do remember this song, now it will be running through my head all day.


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