Showing posts with label Place. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Place. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Problem of Place (Maren)

Every writer has heard the advice "write what you know," but sometimes it can be a difficult thing to know precisely how to do that. Right now, I'm having a difficult time writing a scene that takes place in the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. The Shrine is somewhere that I was taken frequently when I was in preschool, and it is somewhere that I went a lot during college as well. It had a formative influence on me in a lot of ways, and it also seems to have had a formative influence on the character I'm writing about. It is an important place for the story I'm writing, and I want to convey the sense of reality it has for me, and for my protagonist.

Unfortunately, I'm stumped by this problem. When I write the phrase, "He walked into the Shrine," I know exactly what I mean. I know what my character is seeing, smelling, hearing, and feeling. Thinking about walking into the Shrine has a very tangible familiarity for me that it of course doesn't have for everyone, and I'm uncertain how to convey that. The problem is really two-fold. One the one hand, how do I convey the concreteness of a place without falling into excessive description? Similarly, how do I convey the intense familiarity that a place can have for a person?

It may turn out to be a problem without a solution and I may have to sacrifice sense of place and sense of familiarity for the sake of the storytelling, but I hope I won't have to. Only time will tell. . . .


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