Seasoned fiction writers know that constructing a good place breathes life into their characters. Place is so important, it becomes a character in its own right. Place is the glue, which holds your story together. When a good place is developed, your characters will do all the work.
Would you like to learn the lazy writer’s way to write stories?
Whether the place is real or fictional, ensure it is a specific space where your characters live, gather to socialize and make it realistic.
A good place will draw readers in; a touch of familiar realism keeps them captivated.
Lucy Maud Montgomery provided readers a real place in the Anne of Green Gables series. Miss Montgomery’s stories took place on Prince Edward Island, where she was born. From the intro of Anne of Green Gables: “The writer’s underlying feeling that the universe has a soul, expressed in nature, goes hand in hand with her humor and compassion towards her characters.”
Note: Be aware that should you decide to set your story in a real place keep important things where they are. For instance, don’t move a state monument down by the river or make-up street names. You will lose writer creditability, without even trying.
Activate the Reader’s Senses
As you go about constructing the place where your story originates, integrate details to activate the reader’s senses. Let them smell the croissants in the village bakery. Invite them to browse in the village bookshop and feel the texture of old books. What is the climate? Do your characters live near water? Perhaps they must take the ferry to get to work. What misadventures might they encounter?
There is a nosey-Rosy, who sees intrigue in every situation everywhere. Encourage your Rosy to overhear bits and pieces of a conversation and listen to her imagine a murder in the making. And – away you go!
Writer Journal Assignment: Constructing Good Place Breathes Life into Characters
Now, let’s construct that good place and breathe your characters into being. For your first effort at place, I suggest keeping it small.
1. On a clean writer journal page, sketch the town where your characters live. “But, Bonnie, I can’t draw…”
Neither can I! You can draw a box and triangle can’t you? Put the triangle on top of the box and – voila – you’ve begun to construct a town square.
2. Name your businesses. (I prefer artsy towns, with quaint shoppes named “Knit-N-Caboodle”, etc.)
3. Next, construct homes for your characters. (Draw stick figures to represent characters.)
4. Name the streets where they live.
5. Name your town, village, cove, etc. It’s good to construct place before naming it. For instance, if you planted a lot of trees in the town square, a name like Elm Hill or Blackberry Cove would work.
6. Take a walkabout and visit each of your characters.
7. After studying their mannerisms and culture, appropriate names will come.
8. Sit back and invite characters to tell you their story.
Journal the Story
As your characters begin to breathe, make notes in your writer journal.
Writers are always cautioned about plot, counterplot and conflict. Don’t worry about trivial stuff; let your characters do the work.
Congratulations, wonderful writer person you’ve learned the lazy way to write stories.