Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How I write: Location, location, location

We have been on a journey lately. I have written about social media, monsters and almost everything in between. So let’s get back to my thoughts on writing.

I wanted to talk about the location and settings of a story and how to write about it. Many authors write only about the area they live in. There is nothing wrong with this, for the author can provide a vivid description of the area, and it does give their story some legitimacy.

What do you do when you do not live in that area you are writing about? In my novel, the majority of the story is set in Switzerland. I choose Switzerland for several reasons, it location to central and southern Europe, and it being set in the Alps.

As you remember in my novel, the world is besieged by evil creatures, having my novel set in the Alps gives this area some isolation and protections from these creatures. The Alps allowed me to give vivid details of mountain ranges and valleys. I also wanted Switzerland because it borders Italy, but the reason this choice will come out later in the series of novels.

I do not live in Switzerland, nor have I ever been, so my problem is; how do I describe these places in my novel? For me, the answer is the internet.

[I will state there are many different resources for you to find this information on the internet. I might add that you want to double and triple check this information. Just because you find it on the internet, does not mean it is true.]

The internet is a wonderful source for any writer; it can take you places that you have never seen. So it was with me, and once on the web I needed to find the places I wanted to describe.

I write the plot of my stories first, where the character begins and where he ends. I do this even though I do not have the specific places in mind. I then looked at the map of Switzerland, and determined the beginning and ending points of his travels. Since my hero becomes a page for a knight, I decided the ending point of his travels would be the capitol of Sweden, Baden. To determine where he came from, I decided to look for a spot far enough away from Baden requiring him to travel some distance. This area would also need to have some history to it. After researching different locations, I decided that he should come from a rural area near the village of Andermatt.

I choose Andermatt because there are many amazing attributes to this area. There is the Teufelsbrücke or Devil’s Bridge. The legend of this bridge was it was built by the devil, and I thought this would fit into the theme of my story. This area is also famous for General Suworow (aka: Suvorov), and there is a statue commemorating him and his men. I wanted to describe this monument in my story, but since my story is an alternate reality, I had to adjust its description slightly.

Now I have my locations, how do I describe them in my novel? This is where the internet becomes invaluable. I do searches on the locations I choose, and then try to find pictures of this area. Seeing photos of this area, I use my imagination and place myself there. I describe in detail how it must look and feel. Another point, is if you are dealing with a specific time of the year, find out the typical temp for that area at that time. If you do not want to write about a heat wave, if typically, the temperature is normally below freezing.

I also like to read other author’s depiction of the area. Sometimes reading someone else’s work gives me a fresh look at the area and allows me to feel what that author is feeling.

Some might say the last technique is bordering plagiarism. I am not copying these other author’s words, but trying to get a sense of how they felt when they were in this area, to help me expand my knowledge of it. On a side note: Bram Stoker basically plagiarized a tourism guide book when he described Transylvania in “Dracula.”

Another step some author’s might need to take is historical reference. If your novel is set during a specific time, such as the renaissance, you may need to find out what a town, or country was called or even existed during that time period. You do not want to reference a building, if it had not been constructed until after the time frame, your story takes place.

So if you cannot travel the world, but want to write about it, use the internet. It allows you to go from one part of the world and across the globe to another without ever leaving your keypad.

Next Time: Friendships

No comments:

Post a Comment