The Art of Writing No.6

To give a narrative authenticity the reader should be able to locate himself or herself  in the environment in which the characters play out their dramas. Whether this is a vast landscape of forests, plains or deserts or whether it is it is the interior of a single room, it is as well to think of the five senses and how you might prioritise them. Landscapes are brought alive visually first and then there is sound, smell and lastly touch and taste. An interior can be made to produce a whole range of emotive reactions by giving ascendency to senses such as smell and touch. Thus you can make it claustrophobic or warm and embracing, cold and lifeless, decaying or alien. By imagining yourself inside the character’s mind, how does this person navigate the environment you have created? Indeed, why have you chosen this environment? How does it further your tale? My editor pointed out to me that landscapes were like extra characters in Azimuth. The characters interacted with them and they played their part in adding tensions and volition to the narrative. So, if the location is to be a character in your plot, you cannot make it blurry and inconsequential. It must be substantial, four dimensional and provide challenges and aids to your characters. There must be enough detail of its effects on the senses to be believable and to persuade the reader that he or she is right there, for good or ill.

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