How to Fix a Haunted House

November’s issue of Popular Mechanics had this tantalizing line right on the cover: HOW TO FIX A HAUNTED HOUSE. No matter what genre you read or write, that line grabs your attention like a frisky pit bull. I figured there had to be something in there to wake a writer’s imagination.

Let me quote the beginning of the article. “Every house has secrets. Doors open or shut themselves. Lights flicker randomly. A toilet flushes on its own. And there’s that deathly odor. You’ve been catching whiffs of it for years now, but you still can’t seem to locate the source. Sorry, but your house is creepy.”

The article then pinpoints areas of your creepy house that could be causing these problems.
* A ghastly stink from the sink could be the olfactory trace of something horrible that happened there. Or maybe it’s the result of a dry sink trap.
* Lights that shut themselves on and off could be a carpet-covered monster chewing on the wiring in your electrical panel. Or maybe it’s just loose/frayed wiring.

* Doors that slam shut on their own could be the ghost of Aunt Mary letting you know she still needs to wear a sweater around your drafty old house. Or maybe the doors are hung poorly and sway to every little puff of wind.

As a writer, this article is a gold mine. Who doesn’t love a good scare now and then? But in my books, I don’t want to rely on the supernatural to spook my protagonist. Knowing a physical fault in the house can cause a freak-out on a dark night is much better than relying on the aliens, ghosts, or evil spirits making mischief. Check out the article and find new ways of adding a little suspense to your scenes, courtesy of an old house.

-Sonja

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