place, a memorable setting that is so important
to the story that it functions almost like another
EXAMPLE: This is a novel of place -- the story
could not have happened anywhere but in New
York City (or the Yukon, or the African desert,
Now, I am not so sure I would describe my story as 'a novel of place' but I think it is an interesting thought because of another story I had been working on, which I tucked away for a later time, to write this, which I could consider a novel of place. Before the Lexicon I didn't really consider the concept. That idea had sprung from a place. A place I was living. A place I am weeks away from moving back to! (My lover and I are both so on edge.) And in being away from that place I found myself unable to write with the fluidity I had when I wrote in the afternoon sun light on my lunch breaks. I wonder if, when I move back I will have trouble writing this story because even though this novel is not a novel of place, the setting is an important character. The scenes in the lone cabin, high in the mountains reflect Angela's isolation. The gazebo that is built in the womens' yard when Beatriz is thirteen, looking over the cliff upon the ocean has it's particular color, size and shape that belong to what happens between it's pillars. And Beatriz studio apartment above her bakery, the flour that coats the wood floor, and how the sunset is always perfect if you watch it from her balcony. Could the story of Beatriz and Angela take place anywhere else in the world? I think it could, but no matter where it all happened, the setting would have to be central in order to tell their story.
Maybe it is always that way... Not always that way in a novel or a story but in reality. Where you are is so central to you, even if you try to deny it. I have tried to deny it before. But, every year it becomes more and more obvious, with every change, every addition to my memory, I can see more clearly how I am Oregon.
Maybe that is why it has been easier to write this story verses the aforementioned story. Maybe Miami had shocked me but I still had not affected enough so that I was able to capture it. The Portland, Oregon, North West, Pacific Coast culture is my culture. And the further I step away from it, the more I am able to separate my ideas from it. I thought maybe I had figured it out, in the youthful fashion of my naivete. But in coming back, what were once minor details, nuances, dance in front of my eyes, so obviously. And as I attempt to see it for what it is, only then I am able put it into words. I feel like if I write something that I would give to others to read, I would owe the story at least that. At least the truth, even if told through a type of lie.
It wouldn't be fair to say that our place makes us, and it wouldn't be fair to call my story a novel of place, but I love the idea of making the setting a character and I strive to do this!
setting, where a novel or scene takes place.
EXAMPLE: I can't tell if these people are talking
in a jail cell or a church lobby. You need to put
them in a setting --- give them beer glasses and
have them shout over the noise
I have included setting in this entry because it obviously ties in with place, but also because this was one of the examples I ran across that I thought I had tackled well so far in my story. Remember the scene in The Hours where Robert says:
"I wanted to be a writer, that's all. I wanted to write about it all. Everything that happens in a moment. The way the flowers looked when you carried them in your arms. This towel, how it smells, how it feels, this thread. All our feelings, yours and mine. The history of it, who we once were. Everything in the world. Everything all mixed up, like it's all mixed up now. And I failed. I failed. No matter what you start with it ends up being so much less. Sheer fucking pride and stupidity."
When I heard those words on film the struck me. He said what I had wanted to accomplish, to only explain a moment. Everything about that moment because everything is part of that moment. Maybe it is impossible, but at least I want my reader to feel the moment they are viewing. Looking back over my writing with my new, more critical eye, I can confidently say that I have weaved in the different settings well. The way I do it is subtle, but the image is obvious.