Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Landscape as a Character

Having recently finished writing about Diana's long journey, it was interesting to come across this post on Bernita’s blog.

The post and comments resonated with me because they reflect my own struggles with Diana’s fictional travels. How much does one tell of the mundane day-to-day matters of travel, or of daily life in general? How do you make a quest real and not just a series of challenges or adventures happening in a vacuum?

For me, the landscape in a journey or quest is a character in its own right and ought to be treated as such. It is by turns friend and foe, and deserves the same attention to detail that one affords the creatures and characters that the protagonist meets along the way.

This isn’t to say that one ought to delve into every dull little detail. Only the most dedicated naturalist really wants a point-by-point description of what dry gramma grass looks like. But a sense of place is what makes the journey feel real. Otherwise, all you have is a cardboard landscape; a cheap Hollywood backdrop for a string of events.

Your land has a personality. It might work for or against your protagonist, but it's a worthy character who will enrich your story if given a chance.


Bernita said...

Well put, Bunny!
You've encapsuled what I was feebly reaching for.

Alice Audrey said...

You recall to my mind the scene in Diana's Diary where the mother falls off the bridge, leaving the wagon full of kids in Diana's hands, where Flecka went lame, and when she crosses the Mississippi. It's like three different characters.