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Writer’s Inspiration – Special Places Part One
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For creative writing, and by that I mean fiction efforts of any kind as well as more generalized “let me hone my skills” kind of descriptive writing, different authors start at different starting points. Many authors start with a fairly strong idea of character and character conflicts for their storyline; or a good title that suggest such conflict.

Setting, however, tends to loom large on the list of the things a creative writer looks to for inspiration.

And, for that, we writers look to special places.

What I want to deal with, here, is some of the less obvious places to consider in your search for an inspiring setting.

Although such a setting often is, it does not need to be big and bold. It also does not need to be something from the present: you can look to your past for meaningful settings upon which to build your fiction.

A setting can be something as simple as an old upright piano in an unfinished basement [and this is a real example from my own life.]

Another simple example could involve a backyard swing set or a kitchen stove.

You can set a conversation over any of these settings that can lend drama to your creative writing efforts.

You can, however, transition to somewhat less simplistic settings than that. You may, for example, want to use places you’ve been on vacations: and invoke the majesty of a national park of some kind or other majestically scenic locations you may have traveled to.

As a kind of middle ground, you can find inspiration in locations like the local clam shack or pizza joint.

Or, perhaps your family had favorite traditional gathering spots that lend themselves to use in creative writing endeavors. In my family, we had relatives with a sixteen acre dairy farm and other relatives with a camp on a lake that relatives often came for a brief stay during the summer.

I also have strong memories of certain amusement parks and theme parks, and any of these settings can give strong inspiration for creative writing projects. As can circuses, rodeos, drive-in theatres, and campgrounds or trailer parks: among many other possibilities. On the darker side of life, hospitals and funeral homes may also serve the purpose of providing a compelling setting. It’s up to each writer to find the setting that compels the reader.

Everyone has a unique experience. But, for new writers interested in creative writing versus the straightforward web content writing, one place to start or to derive inspiration involves looking at those special places in your life that can serve as a setting for the work you want to do.

And keep in mind those settings can have a very simple nature. After all, the long-running television series The Waltons got a good seven years or more out of a foundation setting of John-Boy’s desk in front of the window in the Walton house.

There is no reason any one of today’s young writers can’t someday come up with something just as potent based on some unique, special place in her or his own life.

You can even divvy up your list of special places in a variety of different ways, such as very simple, “down home” special places and more complex types of special places. And, you can add details, such as a particular place for a specific kind of event such as a July 4th cookout or a barbecue.

My own list of the simplest would likely include:

• A freshwater beach named Bella Vista

• My great-uncle-and-aunt’s dairy farm

• Our driveway and backyard during family summer outdoor gatherings

• Later, a side yard we acquired when neighbors moved and sold our family part of their property

• A barbecued chicken place a few miles from our house that had interesting rock ledges in the picnic area

• The county agricultural school my older brother attended

• A different uncle’s summer camp on a lake, set up town-house style, where two families each stayed in one of the units

• Several different small, local grocery stores and variety stores from my childhood

I’m sure there are more I could come up with, but these are some of the settings I might well look to when casting about for a setting for a novel or short story. Many of them either no longer exist or are in other hands than my family’s, but they still make solid, creative inspiration to apply towards devising a setting for fiction.


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