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  1. RedGirl7
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    RedGirl7 New Member

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    How to describe a squatter's area?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by RedGirl7, Dec 30, 2012.

    Hi..~
    i'm making a story and i need help in describing a squatter's area...how the houses would look, the alleys,the smell,etc.
    i'd like a paragraph from any book or if you can make it up it would be nice too... words would also be useful :)
    i only have few ideas to put it so please help..
    thanks in advance~:):D
     
  2. .Mark
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    .Mark Member

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    Squatters generally don't have a lot of possessions, usually just a bag with some blankets and coats etc. Some might not even have a mattress to sleep on. Think giant wooden spool, milk crates, that type of thing. There are some squatters out there who can be pretty well furnished, that is if they manage to bag a house under what's referred to as "squatters rights." (At least in the U.S. anyways)

    Cleanliness is another issue, obviously they're not going to be washing clothes regularly. Most bathing is done maybe by hosing off outside, in a public bathroom etc. I don't know if you've ever been around a homeless person, the body odor can be pretty strong. Think mild vinegar or urine.

    Trash collecting and panhandling are going to be main sources of income. Aluminum and glass exchanges for cash, panhandling on busy city streets. Most homeless people make up stories to beg for money, like they need change for a bus fare etc.
     
  3. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Redgirl, and welcome.

    I agree with all .Mark as said in addition to that, you ask about the houses and area - squatters squat anywhere they can, be it an empty house, barn, shed, office block, disused factory or piece of land etc. When it comes to shelter they are opportunists and do the best they can.
     
  4. Jon Deavers
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    Jon Deavers Member

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    I would think your description of the house is going to rely on what the broader setting is for your story. If they're squatting in an area of a city that's been run down and abandoned over the course of many years that would inform a different description than if (as mark said) they're squatting in a relatively nice suburban neighborhood that has only recently developed abandoned houses due to foreclosures etc.

    If you're thinking of a more dystopian setting then I can recommend the "specials" housing in Phillip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" (the book that Blade Runner was based on) and also "Ravenor" by Dan Abnett has some cool descriptions of urban decay that features some squatters.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no one can help you without knowing where and when this is supposed to be... are you asking about squatters in a public park or under a freeway, or vacant city lot nowadays?... ones of an earlier time, or place?...

    whatever your setting and time frame go to google images and do a search for 'squatters' and add the year and place... then just describe what you see...

    you are really asking others to do all your work for you here... if you want to be a writer, you need to be able to do this on your own...
     
  6. ranjit23das
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    ranjit23das Member

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    I agree with mammamaia, its called 'research' and time spent doing deep background research pays off in authentic writing.
     
  7. blenderpie
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    blenderpie Member

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    The first thing I think of is how bad it must smell, how extreme the temperature must be, and how dirty everyone is.

    It also depends on the purpose of the squatting. A teen just kicked out of his or her parent's house and starving group running from zombies are going to pick different places at different times, etc.
     
  8. D-Doc
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    D-Doc Active Member

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    Check out some photos on google images. You'll find a bunch of good ones if you search keywords such as slums, squatters, hobo camps, ect. I'm not sure where you live, but if you're in a large enough city then I'm sure you can find some if you drive around long enough. I see Ciudad Juarez across the Rio Grande every time I drive down I-10 to El Paso, and I can tell you with certainty that I've never seen a place like it in my life, at least not in person. I recommend that you try to witness some slums or squatter camps for yourself-their effect is much more powerful when you see them with your own eyes.
     
  9. BritInFrance
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    BritInFrance Active Member

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    I think there are some huge generalisations (clich├ęs, even) here.

    A squatter is someone who lives in an abandoned building without the owners permission.

    I have known squatters who take great care of the properties they live in (paint them, undertake general maintenance, etc). A lot of them are connected to utilities (electric and water) so not everyone living in squats are the smelly, unwashed types (although there are a fair number of those too) - there are people who have jobs but can not afford to pay rent.

    It depends on the characters living in your squat in your story. If they are crack addicts they are less likely to take care of themselves and the property, than a young family who have nowhere to live.
     
  10. BlackBird
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    BlackBird Member

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    Well you could:

    Google squatters
    http://www.google.ca/search?um=1&hl=en&tbo=d&biw=1024&bih=536&rlz=1R2ADFA_enCA456&tbm=isch&q=squatters+in+the+philippines&revid=89994201&sa=X&ei=MPLmUPvuFYHLqgHfqIFQ&ved=0CFQQgxY

    http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&biw=1024&bih=536&q=squatters&rlz=1R2ADFA_enCA456&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.1355534169,d.aWc&bpcl=40096503&wrapid=tlif135732335635310&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=L_LmUKWpBY_RqAGg9IDAAQ#um=1&hl=en&tbo=d&rlz=1R2ADFA_enCA456&tbm=isch&q=squatters+area&revid=89994201&sa=X&ei=MPLmUPvuFYHLqgHfqIFQ&ved=0CG4QgxY&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&bvm=bv.1355534169,d.aWM&fp=e77bb1a6abbc5933&bpcl=40096503&biw=1024&bih=536

    That would give you an idea of what the areas would look like.


    The smell? Generally think unclean. Run down, rotten. Most squatters don't have even have clean water. Some squatters, if they are not outright poor, are affected by mental issues and what not so they might not react to filth, etc in the same fashion as a regular human being.

    I've done animal rescue with the local shelter every so often - as my daughter is a vet - and the smells that come out of some of the more rundown properties are enough to have you open the door, take one step instead, and then wheel around on your heel to literally puke your guts out on the curb because of the smell of poop, unclean, and rotten food / animals / bodies.

    It's ten times worst in the summer.


    But as BritinFrance said it depends on the person. A vast majority though of squatters belong to the lower social class and as such they can barely survive forget looking after the property they live in.
     
  11. D-Doc
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    D-Doc Active Member

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    Squatting is perfectly legal in some parts of Mexico (Squatting can also be defined as claiming and living on unoccupied land). I've seen their communities around Ciudad Juarez. Plywood, sheets of aluminum, dirt floors, no electricity or plumbing, ect. I'm not saying all squatter settlements are like that, but the ones that I've seen certainly fit the stereotype.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    true... 'squatting' can mean living in an abandoned building, or camping out in a public park, or a variety of other situations... you need to be more specific if you want valid advice/suggestions...
     

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