There are haunted houses (and other haunted buildings!) all over the world. Many spooky stories are associated with Himeji Castle, in Japan, including that Osakabehime, a mind-reading yōkai, inhabits the towering white fortress. Bran Castle in Romania is said by some to be the original home of Dracula, whereas it’s believed that the ghost town of Al Madam, in the United Arab Emirates, is haunted by djinn. The staff and actors at Puerto Rico’s Teatro Tapia have not only seen apparitions, they’ve also heard footsteps and even a choir of ghostly voices! Here in Tucson, Hotel Congress is said to be haunted, including by a man in a top hat.
A lot of haunted house stories are about the ghosts and other spirits that inhabit those buildings. But what if the house itself could speak? What if it had something it wanted to share: about its history, about the ghosts that live there, or just about how it feels to be haunted?
In this writing exercise, we’re going to write from the perspective of a haunted house or building. Here are the steps:
- Pick the haunted house/building you’d like to write about. You can choose one you know, one that exists in your imagination, or select one from the photographs at the end of this post (no need to research anything about the building you choose—this exercise is fiction, which means you can make things up!).
- Get out a piece of paper and something to write with (feel welcome to ask a favorite adult for help if you’d like). At the top of the paper write the first line of your story: “I am (name of the haunted house).” For example, if I were writing about Hotel Congress, I would start my story with the line: “I am Hotel Congress.”
- Once that line is down, set a timer for fifteen minutes. In that time, write as much as you can from the perspective of the haunted house you’ve chosen. If you get stuck, here are some questions to inspire you:
- How did the house become haunted?
- How does the house feel about its haunting?
- What is the house’s favorite thing about being haunted? Least favorite thing?
- What would the haunted house like others to know about it?
- Is the house friendly with the ghosts and spirits that inhabit it? If so, what do they like to do together?
- Does the house know other haunted houses or buildings? How do they communicate with one another?
- What does the haunted house want in the future?
Here’s an example:
I am Hotel Congress. People come to me to listen to music, dancing all night long to country and cumbia, or to stay in one of my rooms. They ohhh and ahhh at my architecture, enjoy burgers and cake in my café. Most of these guests head home afterwards, traveling back to Phoenix or Los Angeles or Mexico City. But some stay: the man in the top hat, the girl who likes to leap from couch to couch in the lobby, the little dog that yaps at my walls. Journalists and ghost historians say that this makes me spooky, a place to be feared, but here’s the truth: I love those ghosts. Guests may come and go, but the ghosts stay. I get to watch them make their daily rounds and scare the desk attendants and waiters when, for just a moment, they make themselves visible. Sometimes they stop to talk to me. The man with the hat says, “How’s it going today, Hotel? How are your old bones?” The girl says, “So when are you going to get a pool? A hotel without a pool is borrrrinnngggg!” The dog says, “Yap yap yap, ruff, yap yap!” They are my friends and chosen family. And, let’s be honest, they’re good for business: they give me a bit of pizzaz, keep people coming for the food and the rooms and the dancing. I don’t want to get knocked down so my lot can become home to another overpriced condominium, no I don’t. I want to be proud and haunted and standing.
When you’re done, share your story with your friends and family!
Himeji Castle, Japan:
Bran Castle, Romania:
Teatro Tapia, Puerto Rico: