Weekly Write: A Sense of Place

Last week saw the celebration of Robert Louis Stevenson day in honour of the famous Scottish writer and master of moustaches who has created some of the most vivid and enduring landscapes in literature:

‘The fog still slept on the wing above the drowned city, where the lamps glimmered like carbuncles and through the muffle and smother of these fallen clouds the procession of the towns life was still rolling on through the arteries with a sound as of a mighty wind’

Dr Jeckyll & Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson

I had crossed a marshy tract full of willows, bulrushes, and odd, outlandish, swampy trees; and I had now come out upon the skirts of an open piece of undulating, sandy country, about a mile long, dotted with a few pines and a great number of contorted trees, not unlike the oak in growth, but pale in the foliage, like willows. On the far side of the open stood one of the hills, with two quaint, craggy peaks shining vividly in the sun.

I now felt for the first time the joy of exploration. The isle was uninhabited; my shipmates I had left behind, and nothing lived in front of me but dumb brutes and fowls. I turned hither and thither among the trees. Here and there were flowering plants, unknown to me; here and there I saw snakes, and one raised his head from a ledge of rock and hissed at me with a noise not unlike the spinning of a top. Little did I suppose that he was a deadly enemy and that the noise was the famous rattle.

Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson


As such, in this week’s Weekly Write we will be looking at the importance of place in your writing; whether it’s a two-faced city or a deadly island, the setting is vital to the characters and stories that populate it.

  1. Create a city or island of your own, it can be as strange or familiar as you like. Write a paragraph describing it and at the end give it a name.
  2. Write a character sketch for your city/island. Make a list of its traits: personality, style, attitude, class, and philosophy. Is it relaxed and laid back or dark and dangerous? Does it swallow people or lift them up? Is it friendly to newcomers or is it exclusive?
  3. Now take that character sketch of your city/island and use it to create a character who lives there.


Five Word Challenge

We give you five words from the week's headlines, you create a piece of flash fiction that incorporates all of them. Add your story using the comments box at the bottom of the page, with the 5 words as your subject line. This week's words:

flight summary heated clown north