Writing a sense of place according to the Internet

Boat

I have to confess that I struggle with creating a vivid sense of place sometimes. Usually when the setting is relatively mundane – some town, some house, someone’s back garden. To help me overcome this weakness, I’ve looked at what the Internet has to say about creating a vivid world.

Why does sense of place matter?

It is the vivid and breathtaking “reality” of Middle-earth that makes Lord of the Rings work. Without it, you have a poorly written story about a bunch of characters wandering around and getting into trouble. The same is true for our own writing too.

Why is setting important? Mastering writing time and place

Use fewer words, not more

When I started this research, I assumed that I needed many more words to paint a good picture of the world my fiction is set in. This is not the case for a masterful sense of place.

The apex of our art is to suggest everything with a single, well chosen, word. Beyond that word, we can show the characters interacting with the world around them (show, don’t tell).

The more words we use to describe the setting, the slower the pace. So, like poets, we need to say as much as possible with as few words as we can. Here, at any rate, it seems words should be treated as an expensive premium.

Transport me somewhere new

may the muse be with youWhen telling a story we are trying to take people somewhere else using only words. This, I can tell you, is hard. I have no words of sage advice for you other than “good luck, may the muse be with you.”

Don’t let that stop you. Keep trying. Keep telling stories and trying to take me away to new worlds.

This is where I stop and hand over to you.

  • What are your tips of sense of place?
  • Do you find making the location vivid hard or easy?
  • Which books demonstrate a sense of place best?

Use the comments and share your insights.

What do we mean by “Thanet’s writers”?

woman typing writing

A term that we have used on this blog a lot is “Thanet’s writers”. What do we mean exactly?

It could, for example, be taken to mean the historical writers from Thanet’s past. People like Dickens, for example. This is, I hope you might guess, not exactly what we mean.

For some people, “Thanet’s writers” might be taken to mean only full-time writers from Thanet. This is not what we mean. Obviously, we include full-time writers but for us, the phrase means so much more.

Others might assume we mean only those who self-identify as writers and are from Thanet. again, this is not what we mean but it is closer and does include these self-identified writers.

When we say Thanet’s writers, we are always talking about everyone who expresses themselves with words; especially if they do so creatively. Writing has two stages:

  1. The art of coming up with something to say
  2. The act of writing it down

We are almost always talking about the art, not the act.

For us, Thanet’s writers include (among others) poets, spoken word performers, journalists, playwrights, bloggers, essay writers, songwriters, musicians that compose, and of course fiction writers too. All of these are forms of writing and most of these are creative too.

For us, the act of writing is so much than putting words on a page. Writing something down is the mechanical action of writing – that is rarely creative in and of itself. However, the art that goes into choosing the words, beats, or notes – that is creative; at all levels.

This is why we changed our name from Thanet Creative Writers to Thanet Creative. While we will probably continue to talk about Thanet’s writers, we want to be clear we are talking about the creative drive, not the physical act of making marks on paper (or typing).