Monday, April 9, 2012

H = Habitat


Intense philosophical discussions about literature and the essence of good writing include the habitat or location of your character. It does matter where the story takes place.

Ever heard the expression: “Location, Location, Location”? Location is just as important in writing as in life. The two locations most important for writers are: Where does your story take place? And where is your reader?

An excellent example of a writer who knew the where of the story and the where of his readers was Louis L’Amour. Mr. L’Amour wrote Adventure stories. Many of his adventures were set in the Wild West. Descriptions of the Western landscape were essential for his predominately city-dwelling readers.

L’Amour became famous for the detailed descriptions of landscape down to the color and texture of the rocks and the dust along the side of the trial. The heat of the sun beating down on already exhausted cowboys was even more intense when the reader notices, as the thirsty rider would, the trial seems to go on forever; from cactus to rocks to a dusty gorge. Every writer familiar with L’Amour’s writing understands how important location/habitat is to each of his stories.

Writing tip:
**Remember the habitat: where is your character & where is your reader?

12 comments:

LindaK said...

Hi Kate, thanks for following my blog! Great post - I always read back what I've written to make sure the reader can picture the location. It's easy to have it in your head and just assume that it's therefore in everyone else's head too!

Catherine Stine said...

I agree. When one sits down to write a novel setting is soooo important. You should have a few settings that the characters will spend time in. And they should all be places that fire up your own imagination. Perhaps a beloved place, a frightening place, an active, changing place. I'm over from A to Z, so hop on by if you like! Catherine

SherryE said...

Great tip! As a writer, you really have to have a clear picture in your mind of what the scene looks like.

Nel said...

It is very important to have your surroundings correct. It can make or break a story. Thanks for the wonderful tip!
until next time... nel

Nel said...

It is very important to have your surroundings correct. It can make or break a story. Thanks for the wonderful tip!
until next time... nel

Joanne said...

I often want to visit the places in a book. I love visiting author homes and surroundings. Last year saw Thomas Wolfe's home in Asheville NC. I could better appreciate Look Homeward Angel. Good post and plenty to think about when telling a tale.

gail said...

Thanks for stopping by!

loverofwords said...

Setting can be very important. You just gave me some ideas for future blogs. Thank you!

James R Tate said...

Kate, thanks for stopping by my blog TATES OTHER SIDE. Stephen King is great at setting the scene without going overboard. I've seen some writers spend pages on the location description, which is as bad as nothing at all. Balance is the key. Thanks for making us aware.
James R. Tate

KarenG said...

Nice H word! Very good to remember location of both writer and reader.

Nice to meet you, and I hope you're enjoying the Challenge!

KarenG
A to Z Challenge Host

Joshua said...

One of the issues I've struggled with is making sure I don't get too detailed, which is hard in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. You have to describe it so it feels familiar without getting too crazy.

Tamara Narayan said...

I'm writing a historical piece so the character's habitat takes a lot of time to research and incorporate well.