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    Different Senses of Place
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  • Published: Sep 20th, 2007

Avatar"Traveling where the page takes you," says author Sue Charnley. Or as other writers call it—evoking a sense of place. It means taking us, the readers, right where the action in the story is occuring.

Every place, be it a beach in Southern France, an overused campsite, a street corner in Manhattan, or the Alaskan wilderness, can be dialed up with a few carefully chosen details. Less is always more in this case, but its pulling certain specifics out of ordinary life and putting them together in special ways that bring a place vividly to life.

By emotionally shading those details, by reprising them as motifs, by painting scenes with a large color pallette, by using word repetition and alliteration and words that sound like their meaning (snap and ding), and by indexing into our memory banks with the essence of one scent or the taste of one food or the texture of one fabric, writers layer in the lusciousness in their stories. This allows us to imagine what we feel of what is being sensed.

QuestionMarkAs a reader, which of your senses does a story affect the most strongly? Which types of details weave a magic carpet to carry you away right into the heart of the story?

4 Responses to “Different Senses of Place”

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  1. Maria Lokken
    on Sep 20th, 2007
    @ 8:19 am

    It’s always the description of the ‘place’ I feel as if I am there and it stays with me for a long while.

  2. Andrea
    on Sep 20th, 2007
    @ 8:27 am

    You know, I hear that a lot of people skip right over descriptions in order to get through a book faster, but not me. Perhaps that’s why it takes me days to read a book. I love to read description. I love to have that picture in my head of the characters, the place or whatever. I have to be able to “see” it all. I can’t really explain why, except that I must have it.

  3. Gannon Carr
    on Sep 20th, 2007
    @ 8:41 am

    I can’t imagine anyone skipping over descriptions. For me, they are a necessary element to the story. To be able to see, taste, touch, hear and smell what the author is describing, it’s what draws me into the story and makes me feel as if I’m there! I love it!

  4. KeiraSoleore
    on Sep 20th, 2007
    @ 1:09 pm

    Yes, simple dialogue to me just doesn’t work, because the place where the scene is set is as much a character as the talking people, and when the scene is set skillfully, it gives many clues about the characters and the plot that would otherwise be missed if I concentrated simply on the chit-chat.

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