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

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Strategy # 4 Hungry Territory

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

Introduction Hungry Territory

As you have already seen, these categories overlap. It’s up to the needs of the scene, the character, the tone, and the atmosphere to choose which to highlight at a time. Territory and Landmarks obviously connect. But whereas last lesson we looked at the qualities of the specific landmark—here we’re looking at the surrounding territory.

Even in a home or a spaceship the individual rooms could be considered mini territories. Your questions now are with whom, other than people, are your characters sharing their space with. Set up your key setting like a painting. It’s marked on a map, in a chosen habitat landscape, and has a focused landmark. What else lives there? What is visible? What stays hidden?

Let’s look at the questions from last lesson and expand them to territory choices. As you choose specific landmarks for your novel world, especially those that will remain constant through a series, ask these questions of each key spot you choose.

Is it natural?

If it is natural, what animal life is common? What animals live there? Birds, insects, marine or land, or both? Wild or domestic? Dinosaurs or dragons?

We’ll look at some other possibilities under danger, however for now note how even the simplest inhabitant could create problems.

For example, I once knew a camp volunteer who was so allergic to bees that she only had two minutes before going into deadly anaphylactic shock if stung. Yet she refused to let that dictate her life. So she wore a waterproof casing around her neck to hold her antidote so that she could hike in the woods and canoe on the lake.

Turn this into a murder. What if someone tampered with her vial?

In her book Whodunit? Billie A Williams has a chapter on deadly veggies. She explains how it is possible to kill someone with high blood pressure by celery, which would only be discovered if an autopsy was requested, and even then it might be ruled accidental by natural causes. Overdose by sodium.

Maybe that beautiful garden on the corner is the domain of a killer for hire who knows how to use natural ingredients as weapons. Puts a whole new spin on organic, doesn’t it? Turn those possibilities into fantasy or sci-fi. Get ready to kill off an ambassador in a delegation at a welcoming banquet. However no one else is even mildly ill so it must have been natural causes, hmm.

For farming communities think of what could go wrong with canning or slaughter. I read of a true story of a family dying in the early 1900’s because of eating pork. Only the infant baby and grandmother survived because neither ate the meal. How sad.

Perhaps murder is not on your plotline but see where medical emergencies could arise.

Share: What form of natural murder or emergency did you discover in your territory?

Read deep, marcy

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