Where in the world is your story going, or maybe where in the world is your story coming from? Location, location, location gives us three important clues about setting the foundation for writing. Geography may be the most apparent reference point. Are we writing a grimy urban legend, or the pastoral myth of contented cows making private jokes about passing motorists? Are we in our native land, or sipping an exotic beverage awash in a foreign tongue? Writers are travel guides, even Thoreau, who rarely ventured outside of walking distance of his hearth, knew, and expressed the vantage point of passing through time in a perpetual marvel. We are to point things out, underscore the seemingly obvious as well as the unseemly consequence. Observation motivates presentation. Like the song says, “What you see is what you get.”
Time is another variable in our symbolic kaleidoscope. The future can be known, in a fashion, it can be spelled out. The past, like a dream half remembered, my carry more weight than the pillow it is lifted from, and of course the eternal now lends itself, now, and again, to literal representation. How quickly do the hands move across the face value of our timeline? One trick, if writing dialogue, is to make sure the speakers stay in the same reality by testing their speech for perspective. The reader needs to follow a certain path and not be expected to make leaps to cross the missing bounds in our imagination, in other words don’t let the sun come through the drawn blinds of a midnight rendezvous.
The trickiest setting in our imagination is the imagination of our characters, our protagonist, our storyteller. We can only know what’s going on in a written mind by what’s written down. There is no room for fill in the blank, or draw your own conclusion when dealing with the internal dialogue of a person, or perspective, we’re responsible for; such insights need not be hammered home, the subtle musing is perhaps the most accurate, or devastating, route to plot. If a reader asks, “What were you thinking when you wrote such and such?” it is likely we weren’t thinking at all. The devious, or mysterious, ought to be as plain as a box cake to offer any element of surprise or discovery. If a polar bear emerges from the launderette we perhaps might be the most taken by it’s choice of shoes, and after a quick blink begin to wonder if we can trust our surroundings.
Something as simple as a phone booth transports Dr Who across universes and generations, but if the red box itself were too elaborate we may never have the curiosity, or the confidence, to step inside. Ornate, and innate, swirl like the wheels of a gyroscope as the writer spins adventure, but if the reader gets too dizzy the journey, or journal, is halt. The caution we throw to the wind rides a boomerang, consideration is the return on the considerable investment we put into invoking a response. What we don’t care about in crafting our lines reveals who we don’t care about in the world of page turners awaiting our best effort. If there is a higher praise than hearing a reader say they felt as if our work was written, ‘just for them’ I am unaware of it, which is not to say it won’t be revealed in the next piece you submit into our common logos.