Thursday Writing Prompt No. 27

Detail of airplane engine at the Smithsonian's Udar-Hazy Air and Space Museum.

I almost forgot it was Thursday. No, really! Okay, actually I didn’t, but I’ve been so busy trying to print out copies of my first three novel chapters to take to a workshop tonight that I almost forgot about the weekly prompt.

I’m reading about the use of darkness and light as elements in writing fiction. In our culture we associate darkness with evil, and light with goodness. There are plenty of other connotations, too. Western culture uses black as the color of mourning, while Eastern cultures associate white with funerals. It’s important to know what your readers’ expectations are going to be when you put your work out for them to read.

So this week’s Thursday Writing Prompt is going to be about writing the scene for a haunted house. You’re going to use the concepts of lightness and darkness to set the scene for your story. Don’t worry about characters, dialogue, or anything else. Just focus on setting the scene and let the description flow.

Think about how haunted houses are usually depicted: decrepit, dusty, cobweb-ridden. Usually they’re older houses, and portions of the plaster have fallen off the walls to reveal the lathe board behind. Dead trees decorate what’s left of the yard, and the roof is caving in. Mysterious clouds gather over the property as though caught in an invisible fence.

Break the mold. Create a haunted house setting that’s a modern suburban rambler or even a mobile home. It doesn’t matter. But think about the use of darkness and light. Paint the page with shades of black and white in your words. Create feeling and mood. There’s no word count, but aim for at least three paragraphs to give yourself a chance to really envision your story setting.

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