This fun thing - The Tom Waits Map – making the rounds among my friends got me thinking about place. In most of the daily stories I write, I don’t pay much attention to where something is happening.
Actions, plot, dialogue, quotes, characters, those things are a given. I watch for them. But place? I don’t look for it every day.
Then I read things like Neil Swidey’s “Trapped Under the Sea”
Imagine you are venturing into a tunnel that’s been bored into the bedrock underneath the ocean and that continues straight out, hundreds of feet below the seafloor, for almost ten miles. There is no light, besides the faint glow coming from the bulb on your helmet. There is no sound, besides the water dripping overhead or sloshing around your boots. Most important, there is no breathable air, besides what you brought in with you, a lifeline pumping through a hose and into your facemask. At the end of the tunnel, you don’t even have enough room to stand up straight, since it chokes down to just five feet in diameter before ending abruptly. It’s the world’s longest dead-end tunnel, so there’s no way out other than turning around and making the hazardous trek back to where you started.
I also targeted my travel to spots that I had to see, places that were important to Emma. I climbed Mount Oglethorpe in Georgia and hiked stretches of trail in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. Most important was Mount Katahdin, in Maine. To recreate Grandma Gatewood’s mountain ascent, in 1955, I hired the trail supervisor at Maine’s Baxter State Park as guide and gave him all the information I could about her hike. He led my wife and me on a trek that followed the route she would have taken.
and I remember place is important, too.
Anyone have a favorite piece that takes on place? How do you approach setting in your writing?