Sometimes a place functions like a character in fiction. It has a kind of personality other characters have to navigate. Its presence shapes the story. Consider how in Prince of Tides, the opening sequence is a kind of tour of the coastal backwaters that sets a certain tone, but is not just a verbal photo album of tidewater swampery. Or the house of Usher. Or Gormeghast. Houses know when they are lived in and though near ruin will still hold together as long as they can if occupied. I suspect communities, forests and countrysides have a simlar dynamic. They have/are a kind hypostatis…of something. We see this in a number of stories, but trying to write place as character easily decends into travelog, and the sence of character gets lost. So, any pointers?
This is one of my all time favorite things in fiction. I think it’s because I moved a lot growing up, and couldn’t help but notice how this isn’t just a literary thing, it’s very real. Places and their people have relationships, they change each other, they argue or agree. Places have personalities.
I haven’t thought about how to turn that intuition into concrete advice… but I guess the first one would be to think about which of your characters get along with the setting and which ones don’t. Then give it an arc. Are they reconciled by the end, or if they used to get along, is there a rift between them now? (Tolkien did that with Frodo and all of Middle Earth at the Grey Havens, for example)