Recently I moved from my large-by-community-college-standards office to my even-larger-by-community-college standards office. Although it was only a move next door, it took me the better part of a day to transport my things, which was somewhat strange considering that I was only moving books and files–the furniture was left for the new occupant.
In this moving process, I found my battered copy of The Eye of the Story by Eudora Welty. A professor of mine had a fixation on Welty (and all Southern Female Writers) and thus I had to speed read the text alongside a bevy of other texts one week when I had too long luxuriated in procrastination. Many of her reviews passed through my head like snatches of cloud. What I do remember, and frequently revisit, is “Place in Fiction.”
Before reading this passage, I generally thought of the “Where?” as one might look at stage directions, a two dimensional setting. Welty, however, remarks in engaging detail on the importance of creating a world for fiction: “Besides furnishing a plausible abode for the novel’s world of feeling, place has a good deal to do with making the characters real, that is, themselves, and keeping them so.”
The idea of this line is simple yet profound. Characters walk through and interact with the world we give them. If we as writers only have a sketch of setting for ourselves, how can our characters ever fully come to life?
I highly encourage a reading of “Place in Fiction” if only to be reminded how lovely writing can be.