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

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Strategy # 2 Holy Landscape

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


Have you ever gotten together with a group of family or friends and pulled out a photo album of a particular location? Notice how each person gravitates to a particular photo and sometimes the same photo will generate both a positive and negative reaction.

In her study on memoir, I Could Tell You Stories, Patricia Hampl notes that it is a landscape bordered by memory and imagination. “For to remember is to make a pledge: to the indelible experience of personal perception, and to history itself.”

The memories recalled are sacred emotional connections to each person. The landscape has in some ways encapsulated the experience. Whether used as a silent backdrop or a plot plunging odyssey, landscape has the potential to magnify the power in your story with few ordinary details. The key is the personal connection, a holy unique recall.

 Looking at landscape through the eyes of art and imagery can become a separate language of communication. It’s setting up your scenes or vignettes as a view through a series of ‘photographs’.  The snapshots can come from a personal album, or a collection from a museum, a series of postcards, or by remembering images in your mind’s eye. Or the specific details can turn mandatory locations into an indelible experience for your character, as author Sarah Sundin pointed out last week @ 

“You can craft settings so realistic that your readers will say, “I felt like I was there!”

Landscape Exercise:

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?

Share: Do any details surprise you?

Read deep, marcy

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