Writing a Sense of Place

It was a great boost to my confidence to have a review of A Wake of Crows by Natasha Cooper in the ‘Literary Review’: ‘Well written and without any flashiness, this believable police procedural deals with guilt, vengeance, love, a serial killer with a God complex and redemption. It is quiet, effective and moving.’

And also to be interviewed on BBC Radio York by Bek Homer:

BBC Radio York – Bek Homer, 07/03/2022

All in time for the paperback edition to be released on the 7th of April.

Meanwhile, I am working on novel three, currently titled The Shark’s Mouth. As I was completing the second half of this particular draft, it felt like, having built up the plot like a Jenga tower of clues, I was having to very carefully take it down piece by piece. If I did this too quickly, the tower would collapse into a pile of incredulity.

For weeks I have felt as if I am living inside my novel and the reality is the fiction. Which, to be honest, is easy, given the madness which has overtaken the world.

In all my novels I want to create a strong sense of place. Here are some thoughts on how I do it.

  • I am lucky enough to live in the town I write about. Pretty much every day I take a walk to the sea. As I do so I make a conscious effort to notice with all my senses and, if anything reveals itself to me, I will write it down in my journal.
  • I describe the landscape using very simple language. The kind of language a child might use. And then I go over and over it, interrogating it for more detail.
  • I love to use imagery which dips into metaphor. Sometimes these will occur to me when I am walking and noticing. Other times, they can start out as a cliché or a well worn phrase which I then cross-examine to find something more interesting. For instance, the white crests on waves are often likened to white horses. But what other four legged animal could they be? And so on.

I always strive towards a balance between stark description and more complex imagery.

What tips do you have for writing descriptive passages?

4 thoughts on “Writing a Sense of Place

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.