As a writer, I’m constantly looking at settings and exploring scenes. What kind of story can I fit into this scene? Will this setting fit the storyline I’m working on? Can I use this scene anywhere in a story?
For example: last week my sweet daughter-in-law took my mother and me to see Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon. I had been there once before when the water was gushing much faster and fuller than it was this time. Utah had been going through a drought, and it showed in the water levels. Still, I thought of several scenarios with this waterfall. A ledge and a cave hidden by the falls (pretty standard). A water dragon that lives in the falls and comes out to scare away intruders. A city whose water supply comes from the falls. An evil wizard’s tower at the top, beyond view of the uppermost fall.
I enjoyed the Rocky Mountains surrounding Salt Lake Valley a great deal. As I looked at them one night, I could see a dragon flying overhead in my mind. A quest party rising to meet the Yeti in the high cave. Priceless gems hidden beneath a rock above a ledge near the top. A hole that opens up on an unsuspecting hiker and drops him into an unknown world below the mountains. An alien city nestled in the small valley between mountains.
Here’s another example. This is the Secret Garden tunnel at Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, UT. What kind of adventure could this lead to? Give me a few minutes staring at this, and I could probably come up with four to six new scenes. How about you?
This entire (hidden) exercise led me to looking at a book on fantasy mapping this morning. It’s the kind of book that shows you how to draw a map for your game, story, or quest. That got me thinking of other things. Mountains, waterfalls, valleys, plains. Our world comprises so many environments that adventure could be anywhere! I grew up on the Jersey Shore. I love the ocean. Growing up, I often thought about mermaids, whales, talking fish, and being friends with a dolphin. Our environment—mountainous, plains, oceanic, urban, whatever – is often the same one used in our writing, but it doesn’t have to be.
Look around you. Can you come up with small scenes of adventure where you are? I would love to hear some of them.
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