Thursday, August 21, 2014
Strategy # 2 Holy Landscape: Ecosystems
Build Your Story: 8 Strategies for Writing Innovative Setting with Impact
Begin Outside-In or Inside-Out
If you know your setting, then start making lists of all the possible ways the climate, the weather, the topography and daylight vary, and include different seasons. If you have your character and story question, but haven’t decided the setting, then make a list of the emotional roller coaster she will be on. What physical location might provide matching storms? Look at the genre you’re writing in as well. Some have built-in expectations.
A snow setting might well mirror a season of grief. A dark rocky coast is a perfect place for murder. Or what about a delta—sunny by day/dark at night and a good place to hide a body. Looking for a light romance—beaches, night-light cities, or a travel cruise.
Where does the sun rise and set? What parts of home are in light or darkness daily or seasonally? How could that contribute to your character’s personality? Or health?
As the result of a routine physical, a family member was diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency after six months of working indoors in an office. His previous job had been outdoors.
Perhaps you know the city but may not know all the details. Is the house built on rock or on sand? What might happen if the nearby river overflows its banks like a century earlier? In California realtors must disclose to prospective buyers whether or not the house sits on an earthquake fault. What might happen if a shady realtor hides prospective dangers such as a small town built over a defunct mine site with tunnels decayed to the point of collapse?
Study weather patterns. What potential storms would fit best? Raging rivers, tsunamis, or 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. Don’t ignore the unexpected. Recently tornadoes have appeared in areas not normally associated with them. No one is actually surprised to hear of an earthquake in California, and might not know that there is a cluster of earthquake faults mapped in Upper State New York that spread into Canada.
Discover what is really under the city. Look for natural history writers who dig deep into their ecosystems with facts and metaphors.
Writing Exercise from a Painting or Photograph
When we ‘see’ the effect of micro scenes, we can then apply the techniques to our fictional scenes deepening their effect in theme and story and image. Choose a photo or painting that represents either the actual look of a particular place in your world, or the emotion that you want to convey.
a. What do you first notice about this scene?
b. What is the attitude or feeling portrayed?
c. What images, topics jump out at you?
d. Do you think this picture is staged? Why? Why not?
e. What does this imply about this person?
f. What does this painting ‘say’ to you? What is the ‘voice’?
Share: Did you find a nugget that captures a holy landscape for your character?
Read deep, marcy