Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Vale

Dear Vale,

I always liked the sound of you. I know you're another word for a valley (or "river valley"), but it's nice to have multiple words to describe the same or similar landscapes, and I am going to use you to make my point today, which is that the landscape in a story is such an important part of the tale.

Every story has a unique environment. Maybe somewhere on Earth, or an alternate Earth, or a fantasy world or planet.  Whether it's a place we know on Earth or a fantastical world, the setting has to feel real in the book, to us, our characters, and our readers.  Whatever your setting, it can aid or hinder your characters. Do they have a city as their playground? Mountains? Vales? Meadows, forests, volcanoes, deserts, rainforests, vast snowy plains? What is the weather like in your characters' environment? Do they live in the Old West in the United States?  Victorian England?  Ancient Rome?  Modern day Japan?  Do they live underground? In a floating city? On a spaceship? Do they have a lot of space or hardly any at all?

It's fun to explore the places your character lives or travels through a book, and it's important to the world-building and to deciding what your character is going to face.

A World-Builder

*Tell me about your landscapes! What kind of environment do you have your characters in? Do you find that it adds to the challenges or aids your characters along their journeys?


  1. The where is one of the first things that I decide when I start a story. Not to say that I'm the best world-builder, but I do love that part. A lot of my stories involve a beach of some sort...

  2. I couldn't write without a thesaurus. Because it's words like vale that aren't used in common language that make writing sparkle!

  3. Vale, a simple word with a big heart!
    Landscape is important if you want the reader to feel grounded. Without a description of the surrounding area, whether the atmosphere on the moon or the confining walls of a bathroom, the feeling of floating untethered is disconcerting.

  4. Landscapes... once upon a time, I ignored them all together. I had been unable to put into words what I saw in my head. Now I can't NOT explain areas in detail. And let me tell you, I've had some strange areas. They include: a mountain resembling a rickety staircase, a town similar to a circular maze in its lay out, a sunken world with only a few areas of land left... yep, I definitely am creative with my places. LOL Maybe it's because I usually create my own worlds. Hmm.

    But you're absolutely right. Environment is as important as the characters themselves. Environment affects everything. As well as climate and time of day. They set the mood quite nicely. Without them, the world seems artificial.

  5. I like the word vale too. In my WIP they explore some of India (I got input from my neighbor)
    And thanks for the great advice on my v day =)
    happy v day to you!

  6. Usually my settings are pretty USA contemporary, but I may switch things up in the future.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  7. This is so true. I like the information and questions. Good post.

  8. I'm writing a Gothic Romance where the terrain is almost another menacing character.
    Edge of Your Seat Romance

  9. Your blog made me realize why I like sci-fi. I love seeing people in unusual environments. Cool post.

  10. I love doing settings...the research is so much fun!

  11. I grew up in Idaho, so I love including mountains and rivers... rivers in particular--wild rivers. I also like a city scape though--I find it easiest by FAR when it's a setting I've really spent a fair amount of time.

  12. Ugh! That means I'd have to describe it.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!