Saturday, July 26, 2008

Turn locations into characters

Building on my last post, I want to explore the idea of locations as characters.

If you are writing a love story that is about playful young love, setting it against an amusement park will allow many natural parallels in the physical world to the emotional journey of your characters. The roller coaster can symbolize the exciting ups and downs. You get the idea. Use the natural parallels to suit the story. In the same way, a dramatic romance set against the desert provides contrast to the relationship, or can be used to illustrate one of the character's emotional desolation and how the relationship pulls him out of his isolation. Then the flowers bloom on the cactus as their love grows. Subtle details like these can make a dramatic difference in the weight of your story.

If it is a horror story, there are many types of settings or objects that work well as characters. An old house, a large dead tree, a small town, a graveyard, etc. Then you can throw in some unexpected items like a rose bush or an old school bus. The key is it should be valid either as just a necessary object/place needed to tell the story, or as a parallel to the story. Make sure if serves one or the other, or better yet both.

The key in my mind is you are increasing your skill as a writer and elevating your writing to a new level. If you capably use places/objects as characters, your writing will be better. Not every reader will catch or recognize all the layers, but many will. Even those who don't may be influenced by the layers in an unconscious way.

Good luck to all of us on this one. I have the feeling it is going to be a tough one to execute skillfully.

No comments: