Location. It’s not just a place, it’s a character.
As a child did you have that special place where you hid out in a thunder storm? Or a place you returned to at every opportunity for adventure?
I did. Back in my hometown there is a man-made lake, with a wooden bridge that takes you over from one to the other.
It wasn’t the bridge but what I called the islands. Back in the late 70’s/ early 80’s these where overgrown with bushes and shrubs, that had natural hollow dens inside them. Perfect for the young girl seeking an adventure with her trusty bearded collie.
I convinced myself there were mine, collecting the rare piece of litter that had the audacity to spoil the landscape, hiding from adults and families in the summer, like some lost runaway, with a book under my arm.
I don’t have my own private island (maybe one day!) but the importance of that location is till with me.
We were partners in crime. It held my secrets. It was a huge part of my life every opportunity I had.
When writing location in your stories you need to add the relevance to the main characters., what is it and why are we here.
Make your place feel real, dynamic thinks of the great fiction canon’s, from Wuthering Heights and the moody moors reflecting that of Heathcliffe. The moors set the tone throughout.
The landscape of Modor and the Shire are at odds with each other as they should be because each one involves a different part of the hero’s journey.
Your characters need to react to their location, inhale their surroundings, watch how it challenges them and sense when it’s safe and able to protect them. Location is personal.
Like with every part of your story, flip it! Make it unique!
Not only will your setting change over distance but the same one will change over time.
Has the place you grew up in remained the same? I know mine hasn’t, parts that were important to me have disappeared become shops and fast-food restaurants.
Research an area, notice the changes and think how has this affected your character? What stories do they have to tell. Has it changed their opinions, their outlook?
Most importantly see the landscape through their eyes.
It doesn’t matter if your place is real or totally made-up. The attention to detail needs to be there. Take a page from Tolkien, and draw out a map for your setting. Add important features or prominent places.
For the August challenge Day Two, think of a place that holds a special meaning to you. Write it down in great detail. Now do the same with your story location, through the eyes of your character.
Whether it’s the moon or Mordor make it memorable.
For more tips on writing go to The Coffeehouse Writer.