1. miss sunhine
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    miss sunhine Member

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    How to capture a place in a novel?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by miss sunhine, Feb 11, 2012.

    Hey,
    So i'm setting my book in Cornwall (modern times) where i lived for two years as a child. You sometimes here of an Author really capturing the spirit or essence of a place and writing it into their work. They don't just picture the place, they feel it too.

    How would i go about that?
     
  2. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    I've never heard that before, but maybe you could show what is going on around your characters; the shops, market places, parks etc. Describe the atmosphere, like if it's lively or dull, is there romance in air? You could also mantion smells, like food if their at a market or in a cafe and you could even say what employees of shops, cafes and other places are like. I don't know how to capture the spirit or essence of a place, but I think at the least it will help and bring the place more alive - give the read more of a sense of what the place is really like.

    Hope that helps, sorry if it's not what you were looking for!
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Know the place intimately. Know the sounds, the smells, and the feel of the place, and write from that place of intimacy.

    If you don't have that feeling of being there, neither will your readers.
     
  4. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    If you have an eye for art - draw it. Sketch the view from one end of the street and a view from the other. Where are the lamp-posts, the doors, the windows..what can you see from that POV? What about if you change POV?

    Luckily if you arent artistic...they have digital cameras. Go to a place you are setting the story in...if a real place and take some snaps. If its an imagined place then cobble it together from other places you might already know. I am a visual person so I try and see every scene in my head..walk around in it, try and get used to it as a living place and write from there...and maybe make up something that stands out. E.g. from real life...I used to work nights in London. Every time i walked the empty streets at night one thing struck me above everything else..the smell of urine. London at night smells like piss...sad but true.
     
  5. art
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    art Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cornwall, eh? How to feel it?

    Get a piece of ply, perhaps a couple of feet square. Paint it a depressing grey. Stick it on your bathroom wall.
    Jump in the shower and set the temperature to slightly cold. Stay under the shower and stare at the piece of ply.

    That is what most non-coastal Cornish towns feel like. Seriously.
     
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  6. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe this post doesn't give me the feeling of the place, but I'll be damned if it doesn't give me the feeling you have of it.
     
  7. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Rinse and repeat for Wiltshire, except instead of grey paint the ply a vivd green, with a few black and white blobs on it (to represent the cows)

    Edit: If you're in north wiltshire, make the blobs pink to represent pigs.
     
  8. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Go there. You need at least a basic understanding of the place. Google images is good for knowledge, but understanding only comes from doing.

    Other than that, make sure you reference the five senses in every scene - sight, sounds, smells, touch. And pepper your descriptions with references to local things - local styles of architecture, local cuisine, local knowledge. Read local papers, if you can, and catch up on local news and events. Read tourist brochures (not the best source of information, but useful) and do what you're doing now - ask online. You'll get a feel for the place.

    I find that things about a place that an outsider wouldn't necessarily know about (for instance, that there's a hidden path going from one side of the village to the other, or a ruined house in the woods) work like the freckles of a face: they add character and depth to what would otherwise be quite a generic shell. They will do the same to your writing, if you weave them into the story somehow. For example, rather than having your characters go to a local pub, have them go to a disused quarry that's really there in order to put the reader firmly in that place and that place alone.
     
  9. andrew simon
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    andrew simon New Member

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    how to capture a place in a novel/screenplay

    hey fellas,
    i am enlightened by what everyone has said so far. i just want to add that imagination of the place could help if its a fantasy story. but for a story that has its setting on a real life location, visiting the place might just be it. but for my own situation where i am writing a cross-country movie, i want to know if there are other ways of creating my setting. i am in Nigeria, and the other location in the screenplay is new york. i cant afford to go there now. so is there any solution?
     
  10. wilprim
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    wilprim Member

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    Hey, so for me setting is a place where the story takes place so everything you see, hear, feel are a part of it. But what I think really makes a setting more or less capturing is also changed by the point of view the story is told. For example, if you were to write something that is in first person and in present tense, the reader will get a very strong personal feeling of the surroundings whereas if you were telling a past story in third person the reader would feel a little more distant from the setting. This is just a thought.
     
  11. Blue Night
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    Blue Night Active Member

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    Hey Art, what’s your take on Millbrook?

    I’ve been googling it for four years. It plays much into my story.

    And miss sunshine. You actually lived in Cornwall?

    I turned red, full of envy from reading that.

    If only I could ask a question or two or ten.
     

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