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

4 comments:

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 (Davisstories.com)
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!