Lesson 3: Lanscape is emotional.A Lesson by Crashbang
One take on the can of worms that is landscape...
London bridge: an achievement of architecture. An example of how far human kind has come in it's existence on this good vibrant earth. Or perhaps it is a stain on the river, as is the city around it which is just like all of the other cities which pollute, nay, murder our once pure green earth.
Everyone has an opinion on this sort of stuff, and it affects the way we look at things. Person one sees the architecture, the masterful effort required to build this bridge, sees the cultural power of this bridge and it's symbolism of London, and of Britain. Our second person see's it as another bridge. Another grey bridge, just like all the other grey things buildings councils put up on football pitches, forests on childrens playgrounds.
If we understand this, we understand in turn that our opinions in intrinsically linked to our emotions. Guy one feels pride for London bridge. Guy 2 feels an anger towards it, because if it wasn't there he would be able to sit under a tree there, possibly next to a cleaner Thames river, and read a nice book. Slightly hypocritical this stance from our green earth guy, but that is how people work.
Do you see what I am getting at yet?
If people see parts of our landscape, indeed all of the landscape around us and attribute it to an emotion or feeling, then why can't we use this in our description of the landscape? Well...we can. We can mix landscape and feeling into eachother to give both more depth to the landscape and to the characters about whom we write.
Again, another example. 'The sun beamed down on the grass around me, which I stroked delicately with my fingers. Somewhere nearby, probably in the nearby childrens playground, a child giggled. Cars breezed past. The wind tickled my neck gently, a natural massage.'
So we know that out character is relaxed and happy from the description of the landscape around our character. He is loving the world right now.
Then there is a alternative.
'The sun was blinding. I flattened grass beneath my clenched fists. From somewhere near by the playground there came a cackling laugh, but it wasn't Joe. Just some kid. Cars drove past. None stopped. Joe not sat in any of them - I could see even through the dark glass.
I scratched my neck where the wind irritated my skin as I continued to wait.'
Our second person is not in a good mood. In fact his mood is angry, judging from the clenched fists, with a sah of irritation at the wind and the sun which aren't improving his day like they are for the guy above. Perhaps he is also nervous, or eager to see Joe - such is his waiting and listening for his arrival. See how we were able to describe some of where our character is while also giving a hint as to his feelings on both occassions.
This is just the beginning. All we have described here is a patch of grass where our character is sitting, with the sun out and a little wind. Theres a playground somewhere nearby, also a road.
Of course you cant give the characters emotional opinion on everything - this landscape is a beast you must tame - refrain from being over the top - your character doesn't have to be depressed by the site of every cat that wanders past. Just the one that especially irks him.
Of course there is alot more you can do with landscape. Many great authors have twisted landscape to their own nefarious means - John Steinbeck in Of Mice and Men is the best example I can give you, along with Hemmingway's short story Hills like white elephants - I am not the biggest fan of this short story but the amount Hemmingway squeezes into this story through landscape symbolism is very impressive.
There is a whole can of worms you can open when charging into the subject that is landscape - but then this writing stuff isn't anything less.
Class dismissed. Now go and read Hemmingway's story.
Added on January 19, 2010
Last Updated on January 19, 2010
AboutHi, my names Rob, and I am working towards being a writer, be it screen writing or novel writing. I always look to write originally, am always looking to improve. My writing is highly versatile - I ha..