Draw a Map

Back in the old days when going somewhere new you’d pull out a paper map and highlight the streets to be crossed in order to arrive when and where you were going. Today we rely on portable devices that show in real time where we are and tell us when to switch lanes, when to turn, when we have arrived.

Before you write a story we need to establish a map. If it takes place in a real city, real neighborhood, procure a paper map. Drive on the streets that you will use, making note of businesses such as fast food, medial centers, shopping opportunities. Mark schools, churches and traffic lights.

Take pictures of houses, plants, trees. Crosswalks. Intersections. Stop and wind down your windows. Listen to the birds. Smell the flowers in bloom or the pollution from industry or car exhausts.

In other words, cover the scene so completely that it lives in your mind and on paper.

Your task then is to go for a drive. Take a camera and paper and pen. Stop periodically to snap images and to record sights, sounds, smells. Spend an hour or so over each day over the period of time that your story will cover. Winter, spring, summer and fall might be changes to the area that play important parts in the story.

Create an album or folder on your computer and access the information before you begin each writing session.

Have fun with this one.

Keeping a Journal

Many writers find it helpful to carry a journal around so as to be able to record things they see, feel, hear, taste, sense.

In terms of images, one way to accomplish this is to stop periodically and observe. List in phrases everything that comes to mind. Notice textures, colors, designs, sounds and contrasts. For example, the sun is shining but it is pouring!

At this time it is not important to analyze your observations, but to record them.

Your task is to take a walk at least once a week. You can cover the same territory every time or seek out different places. As you walk, stop and write. What colors are the leaves, if there are any? What noise does the wind make? Birds? Is there water trickling or rushing?

Next go online and bring up images that correspond to your recordings. Save them in a special file.

When you look at the images, what emotions rise to the surface? Contentment or unease? Why? Is there an incident in your past that relates?

Write a scene using at least three of the images you have saved. Reread looking for details and emotions.

Have fun with this one.