Writing Prompt: City Planning

One of the most important elements of creating a credible story is setting scene, but it can be hard to set up a time and place if you don’t completely know every street corner, every lap post and every mailbox. You need to give your characters a complete world to live in. So try one of these two (or both) exercises.

1. Take a blank piece of paper and start drawing. Start with a street, add buildings (post office, shop, stables, anything). Add details like cars, post boxes, bikes against lamp posts, a dog waiting outside a cafe. Add things that give the town you’re building more life. Try a lake, trees, rose bushes outside the local bar, rubbish bins and other details.

2. One you have complied a list of places, populate them. They do not have to be parts of a story you keep, but give each location life and characters.

“Jimmy’s”, The local bar had its usual bar fly, but it was not the type you’d expect. He was not unshaven, scruffy or spoke drunken nonsense to the other patrons. He did not even drink more than a few beers each night. He was sullen, looking up only occasionally when a group of young people entered, particularly the pretty ones. But otherwise, he would have looked like a perfectly respectable business man. He suits were varied and tidy, he hair perfect and hands belonged to someone who never known hard work away from a desk. No, he was a bar fly of a different type. The frequency of his visits (nightly) and the quiet way in which he sat staring ahead told something if his story. He was a man avoiding something and it was only after his tenancy had spanned several months, that another regular finally took the trouble to pull herself away from her young friends and ask him what it was.”

So, create a world, then fill it. If you work on this a bit at a time, you may find that you have a complete story in the making.


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