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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Building a Story World

Develop the Habitat

Once you choose your landscape setting, start looking for the key information in the children’s section of the library. It is one of the best places to start a search for key information because the research books take habitats down to bare bones information. When you’re not sure what you actually will need, these books give great basic visual and content material to help you decide.

Next build your location up with a field guide or photo essays, travel videos and travel magazines that specialize in your particular corner. Also look for natural history writers who dig deep into their ecosystems with facts and metaphors. For example, if you need a good sense of the far north, then read Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams.

Study weather patterns. What potential storms would fit best your character’s quest? Raging rivers, tsunamis, hurricanes. Look for natural habitats that have a long history of dealing with this force of nature and place your fictional town or city in the middle.

If your character were to transform into her habitat what animal, or bird, flower or tree, body of water, type of wind would she become?

Writing Assignment

1. Choose one key habitat setting in your novel and then choose one scene.

a. In this setting make a map that charts the trajectory of your character’s emotions whenever she has been present in this place. Try color-coding if she experiences a variety and see what color is prominent.

b. Choose one scene set in this place. If you were to adapt your character’s emotions to music here what would you use? Why?

c. If you were to paint an abstract of this person here, what colors would you use?

d. What does she smell, hear, taste, and touch, here and now.

2. What is missing?

3. Rewrite the scene threading in one of these details as implicit emotional resonance.

Share. What kind of storm would best reflect your character’s emotional stress?

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