Place

Day seven and I’m over a fifth of the way through my 30 day blog challenge, writing a post a day from a list of random subjects which I came across, who knows where now. So, today it is:

Place

When I was teaching creative writing as well as writing creatively, I constructed a list of P’s for writers to think about, and ‘place’ was among that list. Plot, people, POV, purpose, place, pace and polish, to put that succinctly and briefly, –

  • plot – what happens, the story, the events
  • people – the characters, main and minor
  • pov (point of view) – who is telling the story, and if there is an invisible narrator, from whose point of view is the action and events observed, understood and reflected on
  • purpose- what is the writer trying to do, what is s/he trying to provoke from the reader?
  • place – where in location and time do the events happen
  • pace – how quickly, or slowly the narrative develops
  • polish – what the writer must do before sharing their work

Some writers are enviably marvellous at setting their stories – not great tacked on chunks describing where events are happening full of adjectives, although there may be passages of description. Writers who are good at setting their novels, so the reader can see where everything is happening – sometimes without realising they are looking, a place created by the sounds, the smells, the feel of the air, have my greatest respect. I always feel that evoking a sense of place is something I’m not very good at, and I feel very self-critical of passages I write because I just don’t feel my descriptions blend in with the rest of the story. I try not to make them tacked on, but sometimes when I reread my work they seem awkward and forced.

I guess my stories are people and plot driven its about what people say and do, its about things which happen, and although I see where it all happens so clearly in my mind, I don’t always manage to paint in the backdrop as well as I want. I was very pleased, therefore with my latest novel, Winterdyke when several friends commented that they thought I had described the old house where most of the action took place, Athelmond Grange well and made it easy to envisage. 

This is Thomas Radwinter describing the house:

The house had originally been double fronted with the middle section having vast doors into the reception/hall area. Now at the other end, I took note of the later wing which was where I’d got lost and found Sonja. I stomped past the entrance on the west end where I’d arrived two days ago. I crossed the drive and walked along the south facing side of the Grange. A featureless landscape stretched down towards the road I’d been driven along. There was no telling what lay beneath the pall of snow, garden, meadow, pasture. I nearly had a ridiculous tumble as I didn’t realise steps led down to what must be a terrace. Luckily I windmilled my arms and somehow kept my balance and descended safely. I passed a mountainous snowdrift up against the house here but I didn’t stop to marvel at it, plodded on then fought my way up the snow-hidden steps on the other side.
I circled round the east end where I knew from Google Earth beneath the white blanket were formal gardens, with little hedges, walls, and flower beds. I went all the way round and back into the courtyard. Refreshed from my short brisk circumnavigation of Athelmond Grange I would get back to work

Because it’s a novel, further descriptions are threaded through the story, rather than a huge chunk all at once. It pleased my friends, so maybe I can count it a success!

My featured image is of a lovely place, Weymouth!

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