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

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Strategy # 1 Habitat Highways: Floor Plans

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

As I mentioned in the introduction, our characters need to be able to walk around their homes in the dark, just as we can, in order to know exactly where they are. How do they know which board in the hallway squeaks? 

One method of keeping track for your characters is to draw floor plans. Mark both the inside and the outside when relevant. For example, if on a farm, sketch out where the different animals spend the day. Walk around in your world so that you could find your way through the yard in a snowstorm; or that you at least know where the ropes need to be in order to guide you through the storm.  

You don’t need to be able to draw. And for those who do, keep it simple. The purpose here is point of reference. When your world is complex and a character of its own, then these references will become key source points. And you can expand upon them along the way.

Floor Plans

So for each personally relational building your character inhabits, make a floor plan. Begin with one that has a high emotional connection, whether positive or negative. Don’t worry if you don’t know all the details yet. This also is a draft that will take shape along with your story.


1. Draw a simple space and write where the main windows, doors, and furniture go.

2. Take old photos, if using an historical place, and make a visual reproduction.

3. Stop by your local bookstore at a quiet time of their day and look through re-modeling magazines. Pick one with floor plans. Do the same with color design decorating. Especially one that combines different cultural themes as well. Use whatever combination fits.

4. For landmarks, look for blueprints in the library. For fictional settings consider doing mix and match from real locations for a sense of authenticity. Choose a key feature for your world and take it from another. For example, take a clock tower from medieval Italy and place it in a parallel New York City,  or in a fictional neighborhood in the City surrounded by the real contemporary local color. 

5. Keep a city current to today, but make its underground the same as two hundred years ago. Although technically not an Urban Fantasy, the Beauty and the Beast series is an excellent example of showing two disparate living conditions above and below the streets of New York.

Share: If a new person, friend or foe, walked into your character’s bedroom what is the one area that would draw their immediate attention?

Read deep, marcy

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