Words Spring Forth

“Earth, teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life.

A red cardinal perches on a snowy branch in winter in Murphy, Western North Carolina.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

Earth, teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall.

Red, green, yellow, orange, and brown leaves litter the ground in fall in Asheville, NC.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

Earth, teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone.

A single tree stands tall in Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, a virgin forest in Western North Carolina.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

Earth, teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring.”

A green acorn grows into the ground, taking root, splitting open with red spots inside in Black Mountain, NC.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

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Finding Your Character’s Voice Through PLACE

A blue sky reflects in the surface of a bayou in Pearlington, MS.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

Dialogue, simply put, is the VOICE of your characters.  It is the words that they speak.  What does this have to do with place, you ask?

The answer is, just about everything.  From a practical standpoint, people speak differently depending on where they are from.  They have accents, speak in dialects, make particular word choices (syntax), follow or break the rules of grammar, use slang.  When someone speaks, you can often infer what part of the world they live in merely by the sound of their voice.

Looking deeper

A large yellow and orange grasshopper in southern MS in close-up.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

Beyond accent and dialect, I have recently discovered that when it comes to writing fiction there is a much more profound connection between voice and place.  By connecting the two, you can find your way deeper into your characters, and in turn they will lead you deeper into your story.

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How to put PLACE on paper

I am standing beneath a canopy of twisting live oaks on an abandoned road in what used to Logtown, MS in the NASA Stennis Space Center Buffer Zone.

Photograph by Brian Scott Casey

Of all the many things that fascinate me about PLACE, writing it down is the thing I love the most about it.

In fiction we call place SETTING. 

Setting describes both the place and time of a story.   Just as in life, nearly every other aspect of a story is defined by the particular place we choose to set it in.

The lives of our characters are shaped by it, their actions bending to the twists and turns of the world we have built for them. A vivid setting provides a context for the events that unfold in the pages of our stories. It makes our characters come alive.  It makes them seem real to our readers in ways they could never be without it.

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