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

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Strategy # 1 Habitat Highways

Build Your Story: 8 Strategies for Writing Innovative Setting with Impact

“The tourist may look at a place and think ‘What does it do? What is it like? How much does it please me?’ but the fiction writer must look at a place and think ‘What does it suggest? What does it mean to me? What does it mean to my characters?’” Jack Hodgins

He suggests that in order to achieve this perspective, a writer needs to construct a place—“real or invented”—rather than describe it. By choosing specific details you both impress the landscape on your reader and connect them to the meaning of your world. Think habitat.

“Stare at your world until you discover what it has to offer you,” he says.

There are many ways to develop this focused center in any scene. You can begin from the inside out by imagining the location of your setting visually and finding just the right pieces to fit the emotional core.  Or you begin from a natural habitat and focus on the specifics that define your atmosphere and story questions.

For example a setting on the moors can portray an image of beauty, wildness, danger, freedom and loneliness. An added element might be the choice of dwelling. Is the habitat an ancient stone castle weather beaten with crumbling bricks, a wooden hut, or a modern architectural masterpiece? How would each of these possible homes blend or contrast the physical geography?

A desert, ocean, forest, meadow, stream, canyon and island all have distinct characteristics. Even if your character will be interacting with all kinds of terrain there will still be one that is ‘home.’ One that will quietly represent a direct heart highway, either towards security, or away towards uncertainty.

Too early in your story yet to decide which habitat best suits your purpose? Try this brainstorm. If your character were to transform into her emotional habitat, what animal or bird, flower or tree, body of water, type of wind would she become? Where would you most likely find that setting geographically?

Read deep, marcy

Share: What in your character’s natural habitat could become a danger to him or her?

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