Nighttime Cemetery

Here’s a great photo I found on  This one should really get your noir juices flowing. Even if you don’t normally write horror, sci-fi or noir, give this one a try. Stepping outside your comfort zone once in a while is a great way to bring some freshness back to your regular genre.

What a great location for a ghost story this place is. First of all, the grave markers are all ancient, dirty and worn. This obviously is not a new burial ground. It is old, deserted, unkempt—fertile ground for ghosts, spooks, ghouls and all sorts of paranormal phenomena to walk in the dark. Especially considering there already is a ghostly image in the upper left corner. No imagination needed. So, on the surface, this picture looks pretty straightforward, doesn’t it?

But look closer. The headstone in the lower left has a blush of color on it. Why? What has caused it? Where did it come from? What does it mean? Why has the place been forgotten, deserted? What happened here to drive the people away? What is the source of the light, or do these stones emanate an inner glow of their own? Why do they cast no shadows?

Now check out the so-called “ghost image.” Are those arms reaching out? Perhaps they are pincers or tentacles of some sort. Or a ghost bird’s open beak, ready to close on—what? Or whom? And is that dark spot in the center of the mist an eye? Perhaps this is the ghost of a restless soul, or maybe some unearthly creature set loose in the dark of night. Or maybe it’s merely innocuous mist drifting over the deserted cemetary. Or not-so-innocuous mist. What might happen to those who encounter this mist?

Where is this cemetery? Near a populated town, isolated in the country or tucked into the mountains? On Earth, or another planet? Or maybe this is the haunted burial ground for a long lost civilization that dwelled far beneath the surface of the Earth.

It’s food for thought, and a whole meal for a story.

Susan Tuttle

Comments? Your story ideas from this photo…

Word of the Week: Tenebrous. (Adj: Lat. tenebrosus, dark)

Definition: dark and gloomy, shadowy.

Synonyms: dark, obscure, somber, Stygian, black, lightless, murky.

Usage: The tenebrous sky seemed to weigh down on the land, slowing all creatures to a crawl.

About Susan Tuttle

Susan Tuttle is a professional freelance editor, writing instructor and multi-award winning author of 21 books—6 nonfiction on writing (Write It Right), 6 suspense novels and 7 collections of award-winning short stories. She also has stories in both volumes of "Deadlines", the new anthology from the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC), Tales from a Rocky Coast, and the SLO NightWriter anthology. Under the pen name Susan Grace O'Neill, she is the author of the Journey With Jesus series: Lord, Let Me Grow (Parables) vol. 1, and Lord, Let Me Walk (Lent). She is currently working on volume #2 of her Skylark P.I. series (a PI with paranormal abilities), as well as 2 YA fantasy series. And she teaches fiction writing in both the morning and afternoon every Wednesday. Email her if you're interested in joining her class. And follow her on Twitter and FaceBook.