All content © Dawn Montgomery
The last few days have been a little peek inside how I develop my world and characters for a new book. I’ve used my up-and-coming free read Seduced in Shadow (releases May 30, 2011) as my example.
Today the focus is on Location. I have always felt that location is the fourth main character of any story. You can take an alleyway and make it dark and terrifying, or comforting and calming in just a few choice words.
The yellow light flickered around me. Ice cold ripped through my coat and ran shivers down my spine. I breathed, but the bite of fear didn’t ease. Shadows came alive with the rustle and squeaks of unknown…things in the darkness of the alley. The stench nearly overwhelmed me. I jingled coins in my pocket, a nervous habit, but I took comfort in their smooth texture. A loud clang jerked my attention to the scrawny face of an alley cat perched on a trashcan. Its glowing pupils eyed me like food. Fear settled in my gut, and its copper taste overwhelmed the turkey sandwich I’d had earlier. There was no way I was going down that alley.
The ancient light faded and warmed. A cool breeze, sharpened by winter swept through the streets, teasing open my jacket. It chilled my skin, but I was thankful it swept away the unpleasant odor of the alley. The reflective eyes of alley cats playing chase in the shadows pulled a grin from me. I jingled coins in my pocket and a loud clang told me I had a visitor. I stroked the tufted ears of the at the scrawny alley cat perching on his favorite trashcan. It eyed me with interest and waited. He knew I was bringing treats, the leftovers of a turkey sandwich I had just eaten.
So I hit all five senses. Sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. There are other senses too…the adrenal reaction, the sixth sense that something was going to happen…
Did it set a mood for you? Which alley would you consider stepping into?
For Seduced in Shadow, I needed a unique location, a place I couldn’t call on in my memory. I wanted a home where my villain could commit terrible acts, and still be in his plane of existence. Since my heroine was human, it had to be something/some place she was willing to visit. I chose a historic castle and grounds for my location.
The darkness would come alive, and everything that the hero touches would die. Everything, that is, except the gardens. I wonder why that is…hmmm. The gardens are based on my memory of a tour through the gorgeous rose gardens in Tyler, Texas (home of the famous yellow Tyler Rose).
So many authors use location as a backdrop, a thing that can be interchanged. I urge you to look back on your life…
Do you remember a great summer day at a lake? How did the breeze feel? What sounds do you remember? Think about the worst day of your life. I know mine. It was the day of grandmother’s funeral. I remember it was icy cold but the sun was shining so brightly it made my tear-swollen eyes hurt. I remember thinking it should be raining and that the whole world should be crying. I was irrationally angry with the sun.
Have you ever gone to a gathering and sat next to the woman who bathes in perfume? I’m allergic to most commercial perfumes, so you can imagine…I could think about nothing but her overwhelming floral stench. Every time I ate something, the metallic tang of her perfume destroyed the flavor of my food. My sinuses were a complete mess with alternating sneezes and head aches. I was, in a word, miserable. Did my location (seated next to her in an enclosed room) affect my behavior? You’d better believe it did.
When you build your world, your rules, your characters…don’t leave out location as one of your most important parts of the whole.
Below you’ll find more of this World-Building workshop: