Let’s talk about places.
If you spend time in a place, you might start to feel like it has…something. Maybe a soul, if you’re feeling like a hippie today. Maybe a spiritus loci. Maybe just a tingling in your spider sense. But, whatever you call it, some places feel, in your heart and related organs, like more than assemblages of concrete and wood and dust. They have a presence. It could be the amount of time you spend there, or the people you associate with it, or the things that happen within those walls, if there are walls. Or it could just be a feeling, without logic that you could use to explain it to someone else.
I used to make playlists for writing based on characters. I still have some of those, but lately I’ve been making ones based on settings. The garage where a character works. The garage that she owns later on. The bar where they gather. The lair of the enemy. The streets where a few of them grew up. The smoking crater where the truth finally came out.
Draw inspiration from your own life. Where do you go that has a soul, even if it’s not a very nice one? Maybe your work feels like a grey vampire, stealing your life. Maybe your home feels like a flock of squabbling crows, noisy and intrusive. Maybe your favourite coffee shop feels like a pretty girl curled up in her coziest sweater with a good book, ready to relax.
Settings have character. They do more than just provide a place for your characters to stand while they work out whatever problems you’ve set them. They add tone, they help or hinder, they create a feeling.
And they could use a little love from you today.
Monday Challenge: if a setting—city, street, house, room—were a person, what kind of person would they be? What would they look like, sound like, smell like? How would they act? What kind of music do they listen to, or do they hate music? Are they on your side? What are they hiding in their pockets/under their floorboards?*
What do they want?
*I realize the metaphors are getting mixed now. Though I like the idea of a person with floorboards. Sounds vaguely steampunk.