What gave Dorothy that feeling that she and Toto weren’t in Kansas anymore? This is the heart of making your setting into a character. Special attributes, some visual oddity, and a strong memory associated with the location are all a part of this.
Attributes might be the weather or unusual decorations. It might also be how these things mirror a character. A dark and somber room mirrors a parent who lost a child, yet the setting outside the house is an active playground. This lets the setting paint an emotion, or mood, for the reader. A special attribute would be one that makes this setting different from all others. (More on that in U.)
A visual oddity is something that this setting has that is iconic. The Eiffel tower or the Great Barrier Reef are large and obvious markers. Smaller ones tend to come to mind when one thinks about giving directions, such as “It’s the house with the blue door,” or “My desk is the one with the gnome statue next to the monitor.” These sorts of visual oddities help us identify locations and distinguish them from similar looking areas.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this lesson in preparing to write settings that feel like characters – my A to Z Challenge theme for 2015. If you long to discover more in-depth details on this topic, I have a .99 cents (US currency) ebook available on Amazon and Smashwords.
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Question of the day: What keynote speaker would you most like to have at a ceremony you had to attend? (Such as a graduation or award presentation.)