Saturday, October 5, 2013

Old Locals New Landscapes

One of the reasons I love to travel is to see new sights. It is curious how often something I see seems to fit right in with a current work in progress. Except, for the last two summers we've stayed home. The first summer I was writing and didn't want to leave, and this past summer, I was writing and the house was being painted (arduous work). So instead of new sites I began describing in short snippets of the common and ordinary places I went.

Whenever I had a chance to sit for ten minutes or so, I wrote down what I saw in minute detail, and what I experienced in sounds, smells, and sensations. This included the occasional person who passed through, what they looked like and how they acted. Places like the salon where I get my hair cut (heavy on scents), a classroom during a meeting, the grocery store (interesting noises), as a passenger in a car, the local bar, etc. It has been a mind opening experience about what escapes my notice in my ordinary spaces. It also became relaxing while my attention was so closely focused, and time passed quickly when I was waiting for others to finish their business.

Since I found this interesting I've started a collection of location writings. It has made me more aware of setting in my writing, and given me insight into background senses that influence setting. Now I'm thinking maybe I should start doing the same with people.

Available from Champagne Books.
Rhobin Lee Courtright


Big Mike said...

It is interesting the way in which location can drive the direction of a story. Not just as backdrop but sometimes it can even shape the characters.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Such descriptions can certainly shape the plot. Sense of place is essntial to a believable story, so collecting such informations is a good idea. Then you weed out the overload, right?

Rhobin Lee Courtright said...

Yes, Julie, the overload is always enormous, but it certainly helps hone a different take on the ordinary.

You're right Mike, setting and character can be very inter-related.

Liz Fountain said...

Great idea - sometimes I struggle with adding rich sensory detail to my writing, and I think this would help a lot. Thanks!