Published at Tuesday, February 12th, 2019 - 07:00:29 AM. House. By .
Writing Haunted House Stories - Building Atmosphere Through Setting : Atmosphere strikes your character with unease. Consider the houses that might be in your neighborhood. You know the one: Its the house that pedestrians cross the street to avoid. Its the house that high school students dare to spend a night, beyond the creaking doors to warily explore the strange whimpers within its indefinable shadows. Even though nothing tangible has actually occurred, your characters are afraid. This fear comes from the atmosphere: The setting that surrounds your house and your characters. Atmosphere is the mood, and that mood should haunt your readers long after the story is over. So where do you begin? Creating a haunted house story is a frightening and daunting task. To make things easier on yourself, establish the date and time from the beginning of your story. If you write a prologue, begin the story with your date and time or, at the very least, give hints to the decade. Perhaps your character is listening to Disco Inferno just before a psychopath sets the house on fire. Perhaps your character is trembling in the shadows, her bonnet is drenched with perspiration and shes praying for her lantern to stay lit long enough to be rescued. This not only establishes your setting, but also gives you a chance to add a bit of dimension and foreshadowing to your story. Haunt Your Readers Using the Correct Word Using the right word can also establish the setting in your haunted house story. Consider this sentence: Beverly Harris walked into the house. Not very creative at all. Theres barely a setting and the action is not very descriptive at all. Lets try another set of words: Beverly, overwhelmed with incipient danger, crept through the doorway. Better. Crept is a stronger description than the word walked. This is an acceptable description that readers would more likely enjoy. But couldnt we write this sentence in fewer and more ominous words? I think we can: The house consumed her. Ominous, descriptive and simple. This causes the reader to feel discomforted; therefore, empathetic which should be your goal as a writer. To make your readers feel what your characters are feeling. Location, Location, Location Your haunted house is a character just like the rest of your cast. It should have a personality. It should draw your characters into it, much like a protagonist is hunting for a villain. It should have a personality and a history. Your protagonist wants something and your house wants something too. So what kind of personality does your house have? Consider the location. It could be a bayou mansion decorated in a French-Creole, or maybe its a simple two-story cabin in Washington State like in Stephen Kings Alan Wake. Perhaps its even more classical such as a fortified castle located on top of a sheer cliff above a sleepy village. Each of these houses should reflect its geographical location, and its personality should be revealed through the protagonists perspective. If your house could speak, would it have an accent? How would you show that? The décor? The architecture? The location of your haunted house defines its personality. Let it speak. Let it lure your protagonist back into its swampy tendrils. Other ways to give your house a personality through the setting is by re-establishing the environment according to how people speak in their geographical region. People in the Deep South speak differently to each other in Miami and people in Miami speak differently than people in Montana. People gossip about each other and every person has a different perspective on life. Apply that to your haunted house. No matter the geographical location, your house has a back-story and people will gossip about it. What they say and how they say it can reveal more of your houses personality. Each time your character hears a story, his or her perspective will change. For example, The Infinite written by Douglas Clegg, some of the characters that stay in the Nightmare House see it as just an ordinary house at first. Once they begin to hear the strange stories, the paranoia begins to take over and pretty soon the house takes on a more sinister appearance. No, it doesnt physically change. What changes is the characters perception of the house. Your house is another character that deserves to be gossiped about. Everyone has secrets; your haunted house does too. Originality is Vital There are already a number of haunted house movies and books that take place in all kinds of environments all over the world. There are literally hundreds if not thousands that take place in a haunted cabin in the middle of the woods. In order for your horror story to survive the cutthroat competition, it must be unique. It must bring something new to a concept that has been done over and over again. Being unique is vital for your story to survive. Creative writers must be flexible. Instead of a haunted cabin in the woodsy Canadian mountains, perhaps your story is about a haunted floating home in the Puget Sound. Or maybe consider moving your cliché southern plantation to the sunny beachfront tropics of Africa surrounded with palm trees, monkeys and deadly spiders as big as a coconut. Originality doesnt have to be that extreme either. Perhaps your setting is in the Colonial American suburbs of Massachusetts but the architecture is ultra-modern. One last thing to consider when choosing an original setting for your haunted house story is the lighting and ambience. Remember that the farther your house is to the equator, the more drastic your hours of day and night become. A haunted house located in lowest parts of South America, for example, will spend at least a full month in total darkness in the winter and a full month of total daylight in the summer. Enter If You Dare H.P. Lovecraft was a master at building atmosphere through setting. He used the description of the landscapes and neighborhoods to give the reader an ominous feeling long before his character even approaches the house. Take this example from The Picture in the House: ... They climb to the moonlit towers of ruined Rhine castles and falter down black-cobwebbed steps beneath the scattered stones of forgotten cities... The haunted wood and the desolate mountains [are] shrines, and they linger around the sinister monoliths of uninhabited islands... But the true epicure in the terrible and unutterable ghastliness is the chief end and justification of existence, esteems most of all the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods New England... Their strength, solitude, grotesqueness and ignorance combine to form the perfect portion of the hideous. This paints a very sophisticated picture using carefully chosen adjectives and a forward approach. Although H.P. Lovecraft has surpassed the expectation of horror in its finest excellence, award winning author Joe Schreiber writes a more literal description of the Round House in one of his most bone-chilling haunted house stories: No Doors, No Windows: ... It was sparse and plain and narrow, with a curved concrete floor and smooth, almost circular black walls that didnt look as though theyd been painted black but were somehow sculpted out of naturally black material-some substance that literally absorbed light. There were no doors and no windows. Although the passageway appeared to be straight, there was definitely some bend to it, some winding quality just outside the lighters glow. Both of these excellent examples describe the haunted house using atmosphere and setting in different ways. They work well because of the strong word choice and vivid, unnatural descriptions that go beyond the details of how someone would usually describe a house. Joe Schreiber didnt just blatantly say: The room was round. Instead, he painted a picture so vivid that the reader simply got a sense that this room was unnatural and no sane person would enter it -especially if he only possessed a lighter. When is a haunted house not a haunted house? A haunted house isnt always necessarily a house. It can be an apartment or a condo on the beach. Sometimes its a cemetery where spirits of the dead live, work and haunt like in Neil Gaimans novel, The Graveyard Book. Haunted factories, sanitariums, junkyards, prisons, schools, caves and even sewers could all potentially be haunted house stories. All the same rules apply.
Japanese Housing Conditions : In Japan, land price is expensive and housing conditions regarding its rent and size are not good compared to other countries. Accommodation is a very serious problem even for the Japanese particularly in urban areas, which lack spacious and low cost housing. 1. Japanese rental housing In Japan there is both public housing and private housing. Apartments make up the majority of rental housing. a) Public housing Public housing is provided by official organizations such as prefectural, city, and town governments, and housing supply corporations. Any non-Japanese who has an alien registration can apply for this kind of housing regardless of nationality. There are two types of housing: Koei Jutaku (public housing) is for people who have a low income; and Tokutei Yuryo Chintai Jutaku (delux family housing) and Kosha/Kodan Jutaku (Public Corporation housing) for those with a middle-class income. These apartments provide a certain level of facilities at relatively low rent. It is necessary to pay two to three months rent as a deposit (guarantee money) at your tenancy, but key money which is necessary for private housing is not required. However, qualifications such as income are precisely determined, and only those who satisfy these qualifications can apply. As there are many applicants, the tenants are determined by lottery. After moving in, the tenants must comply with the regulations for use (i.e. nobody is allowed to live together with the tenants without permission). This type of housing is mainly apartments, which generally include kitchen, bath, and oshiire (closet), with one to four rooms. b) Private rental housing Private rental housing is owned by individuals and private companies. The type varies in rent and size. 1. Aparto (Apartment) These are mainly two-story buildings constructed from light-weight steel, wood, or mortar, and house 4 to 8 households. Some of them share a toilet and/or have no bath. 2. Mansion (Apartment) In Japan, housing which is bigger than an Aparto and built with reinforced concrete is called a Mansion. The insulation is better than an Aparto, and privacy is better. Some have a custodian living on the first floor or others have an underground parking lot. 3. Detached house Detached houses have recently been designed using a mixture of Japanese and Western styles. Some of them have a garden. There are several rental houses designed especially for non-Japanese but not many. 2. Typical housing size and floor plan The area is indicated in square meters (m2) as well as original Japanese units, jo and tsubo. One jo means one tatami mat, and is roughly 180 cm x 90 cm. (Tatami is a unique Japanese floor covering). One tsubo is 182 cm x 182 cm or about 3.3m2 and equals approximately two jo. There are Japanese-style and Western-style rooms. A Japanese-style room has tatami mats and a Western-style room has flooring or a carpeted floor. Below is a typical Japanese housing floor plan. • K, DK, LDK - K means kitchen, D means dining room and L means living room. K means only a kitchen and DK means a dining room plus kitchen, and LDK means a room which has the function of a living room as well as dining room and kitchen. Therefore, 2DK means a house which has two rooms in addition to a room having the function of kitchen and dining room. • UB - UB means unit bath (unified formation bathroom), which includes bathtub, toilet and washbowl. • Oshiire (closet) - This means a storage space in a Japanese-style room. • PS - This means a pipe space containing drainpipes and wiring conduits. • MB - This means the meter box for water and gas. Floor plan for One-room Mansions (one-room apartments) (Example) Facilities are compact and there is one room which can be used as a living room. The kitchenette is very small, so that elaborate cooking is not possible. Some of them dont have any space for a washing machine inside the room. Floor plan for detached houses (Example) • Most detached houses in modern Japan have both Japanese and Western-style rooms. • Some of them have a garden and a parking space. 3. Customs regarding Japanese housing a) Shoes - In Japanese housing, there is an area for removing shoes before stepping up into the main entrance. Japanese people sit on the floor and sleep on a futon on the tatami, the Japanese traditional floor mats, so stepping on them with shoes on is not allowed. If you enter a room wearing shoes and dirt the mats, you might have to pay repair costs. b) Bathroom - In Japan bathing is not only washing the body but also a chance to relax while soaking in the bathtub. Recently bathrooms consisting of a Western-style bath with toilet have become popular, but the Japanese traditional bathroom is separate from the toilet and has a space to wash the body outside the bathtub. Bathtubs are mainly made of plastic or stainless steel. If you live with a Japanese family, you must keep the water in the bathtub as clean as possible because the rest of the family will take turns to use the water after you. Do not use soap in a Japanese-style bathtub. The water is heated mainly by gas. c) Tatami mats - Tatami mats are a traditional floor covering of straw sewn to make a mat about 5.5 cm thick and bound by woven rush. One tatami mat (jo) is also the unit used to indicate the size of a room. New tatami is green and the tatami mats are changed every few years or whenever moving house. d) Futon (thick bedquilt), bed and oshiire (closet) - In a Japanese house, generally the futon is rolled out every night and folded away in the oshiire every morning. During the daytime, the futon is kept inside the oshiire. In this way, a single room can be used for various purposes. If a bed is placed on the tatami mats, they are dented and damaged, so it is recommended to put boards under the legs of the bed. e) City gas and propane gas - Electricity or gas is provided for the stove and bath. There are two types of gas: city gas (coal gas), led to each household from gas company tanks, and propane gas, provided by dealers in the form of cylinders. City gas is managed by Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. and propane gas is managed by individual dealers. Gas cookers etc. should be supplied by tenants. f) Water supply and drainage - Almost all areas of Kanagawa Prefecture have water supply facilities. You can drink the tap water. In most cases there is a drainage or a water purification tank. The drainage system is not suitable for a disposer. g) Toilet - The Japanese-style toilet has a cover (dome) at the front. When the toilet is shared with other tenants, separate toilet slippers should be used. h) Air conditioning / heating - Some housing has air conditioning/heating but in most cases, tenants have to buy their own. Fuel for heating includes electricity, gas, and kerosene. Sometimes the use of kerosene is prohibited. I) Fusuma and shoji - These are unique Japanese sliding doors to separate rooms. Fusuma is a wooden frame with fusuma paper pasted on both sides. Shoji is a latticed wooden frame with shoji paper windows. It is possible to make a room bigger by removing fusuma to connect the rooms. Fusuma pasting should be done by a specialist but when shoji paper is torn, you can buy shoji paper and repair it yourself. 4. Common problems and how to troubleshoot a) Remove footwear - Do not enter a house with shoes on. Be sure to remove shoes at the entrance. b) Deposit -Most of the problems related to renting involve the deposit. In Japan when you rent a house, you have to pay a deposit to the house owner. This deposit is given to the house owner and returned without any interest when the lease is cancelled. However, repair costs are deducted, so the deposit is usually not returned in full. As the specific agreement of the rent is contained in the rental housing contract, please check the contract thoroughly and dont break it. As for the other expenses when making a contract, please refer to page 39. c) Number of residents - The number of residents is confirmed when the contract is made. Additional residents are not allowed. d) Noise - Do not make loud noises late at night. In apartments, the sound echoes more than you think. As the sound of running a large amount of water also bothers neighbors, try not to run a bath or do washing late at night. e) Pets - There are almost no apartments allowing pets other than small birds and goldfish. If you do find one where you can keep pets, please follow the rules. f) Kitchen - If you cook with a large amount of oil, clean the area soon after by wiping the sink and cooking area. The ventilation fan should also be cleaned regularly. g) Putting out the garbage - Garbage is collected by the municipal government. The collection point, date, and method are determined in each area. There are areas where flammable garbage and nonflammable garbage should be separated. As for large garbage items, there are areas where the collection date is already determined, or you can sometimes arrange to have them picked up. Please consult your neighbors or the municipal government. h) Long-term absence - When you are not at home for a long time, you should notify the house owner. Rent must be paid even when you are away. i) Remodeling of the room - If you want to remodel a room, such as by putting a nail into a pole or attaching a hook to the wall for holding clothes, you should first consult owner. It is assumed that you will leave the room in the condition it was in when you rented it. If you remodel the room and it cannot be returned to its original state, your deposit will not be returned, or additional payments may be required.
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