Now that you’ve chosen your natural habitat and researched a sense of its strengths and weaknesses, begin to look at daily details.
Where does the sun rise and set? What parts of home are in light or darkness daily or seasonally? What does the air smell like when you open the door in the morning, in the afternoon or in the evening?
Look for colors other than the flowers and trees. When it rains is the mud black, brown, or red? What colors stay through a drought? When you wade into the lake do your toes squish into a mushy bottom, or do you gingerly tiptoe over sharp rocks? How quickly do you dry after a sudden summer storm? Is it safe to light a campfire?
Begin to build one specific location. Start small and then stretch outward as needed.
1. Landscape: climate, weather, topography, amount of daylight.
2. Landmarks: natural, man-made, historical, holy ground, open, forbidden.
3. Territory: animals, birds, insects, marine and land, wild and domestic.
4. Sensory Influence: taste, touch, smell, see, and hear.
5. Local: flavor, attitude, speech, food, ceremonies, events.
6. Dangers: natural, man-made, physical, psychological, spiritual.
7. Secrets: past and present.
Note: When you have a particular interest such as food or music or architecture, look for the extra details throughout all the categories, and list what you discover. Set it in its own notebook or category as you work through all the lessons and highlight all the possibilities for atmosphere. Decide how to keep track of these categories because you will continue to expand them, especially if you develop a series. (More as we go)
Using the same location, explore the same space from three different angles to get a sense of possibilities. What particular characteristics will you choose to emphasize? For example, here are three ways you could develop a Victorian house.
First in an historical, either literary or genre, with the house being freshly built with ‘new rich’ money—what are some character/plot issues this setting can provide?
Second, develop it as century old home in a romance novel.
Third, set the same house in a mystery novel as a dilapidated building in a run-down neighborhood.
Share. Which one does your imagination immediately visualize?