raze: A man and a rooster. (motherfucking WRITING)
[personal profile] raze
There is a tiny room in the back of my house that we haven't used in the better part of the just over a year and a half that we've lived here. It was full of old clothing from the previous owners, and as I learned today upon entering and immediately being swarmed by an army of tiny black bloodsucking pests, those clothes were home to enough fleas to drain a horse in about an hour. I just spent a good two hours getting eaten alive while destroying everything in said room and dousing the whole lot of it with bleach and pesticides and... being a writer, it made me think about writing.

Obviously any setting is important to your text. However, I have always felt that characters' homes really say a lot about them - just like our homes say a lot about us. For example, I find it bizzare that we have an unused room in this place, since the rest of it is so packed full of parrots, fish, reptiles, and one tiny, spoiled house chicken; I've been to other peoples' houses that look like home decorating magazines that make me feel uncomfortable because I'm pretty sure I'm messing the place up just by breathing.

So, tell me about your characters' homes and if they reflect anything meaningful about your character. Are there family photos on the walls? Is the place a stinking, filthy, ill-kept mess? Dusted and vacuumed and cleaned so often that it looks like no one lives there? Brightly lit? Dimly lit? What does it smell like? Will a dog jump on me when the door opens? How many locks are there, and are they often used? Is the yard maintained, embellished, or going wild? Talk to me, folks.

I'll give an example:
My main character lives in two locations through the course of the series, and the homes are a stark contrast to each other to reflect the changes he's undergone as a character.

When he lived with his fiance, the house was very homey indeed, full of photos and refridgerator magnets and dog toys and similar fare. Warm lighting, colorful decor, collected objects, tidy but still lived in, a fully stocked guest room, etc. They each have a desk piled with junk from work, but it doesn't spill over to any other part of the house. There's a vegetable garden out front, the lawn is mowed but not manicured, and the garage is a cluttered disaster of nonetheless well-used outdoors equipment. It speaks of a place where people really live, and are happy.

His second home has the bare minimum of furniture, drab colors, virtually no personalization - no photos, no little nick-nacks, no embelishments, etc. - a work desk, and an essentially empty spare room that he didn't bother setting up for guests because he has no expectation of company. His only photos are in a box in the closet. He has an old dog collar on his night table, but no dog. Though he is a bachelor, it has none of the characteristic "bachelor pad" amenities, and looks a bit like he recently moved in despite being there for five years.

This is highly deliberate, because in the first instance he has a rich and fulfilling life that friends, family, and his fiance are a significant part of. Later, he is isolated, lacks a sense of belonging, and so invested in only his work that the only place he's really personalized as "his" is his office. It also speaks to his emotional state; he really just doesn't care enough to even bother making his house 'his.'

Essentially, the houses are designed to be an extension of the character, and I do this with most any home-owning character in the series. How about you?
analect: (pardon)
[personal profile] analect
All right, I figured it was time for a discussion thread. Thought we might throw one of these around every week or so and see where it gets us. Please feel free to make more, and better ones.

In the meantime, your opinions: show me them!

Do main characters have to be sympathetic, or even likable, to serve their purpose in a story? )


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The Writers' Lounge is a friendly, informal chat, crit, discussion and resources group.

Have questions or want to discuss something? Fire away! Want some feedback on a piece of writing you're working on? Post it! Stuck with research, or found a fabulously useful resource others might benefit from? Step up and share!

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February 2013



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