Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Writing Prompts: Going Home

Many great stories have involved going back to a place from one's youth.  Among my favorites is A Separate Peace, in which Gene returns, fifteen years after graduation, to his boarding school, and visits two places of significance--a tree and a flight of marble stairs--in an attempt to come to terms with what happened at those spots, his own guilt, and his attempt to be a better person.

Songs remind us of the nostalgia of the places that once were:

The put a parking lot on the piece of land
Where the supermarket used to stand
Before that they put up a bowling alley
On the spot that used to be the local Palais
That's where the big bands used to come and play
My sister went there on a Saturday
.
.
The day they knocked down the Palais
My sister stood and cried
The day they knocked down the Palais
Part of my childhood died, just died....


~~The Kinks, Come Dancing



The writing prompt: 


photography, seashore, memories, going home, writing tips, building character
Photography by Emmanuels Light
Describe a place from your past that is significant or holds strong memories for you.  Imagine that places, like the local Palais, is about to be torn down, and you go see it one last time.  What do you see there?  What memories does it hold, good or bad?

How did the place impact your life?  What emotions does it evoke to see it again?

How do you feel about it no longer existing, if it's a structure that can be torn down, or if it's a landscape that can be significantly altered?  Do you feel that somehow takes away from your life and memories?  Was there 'unfinished business' there?  Something that dramatically changed your life?

What are you thinking as you return to this place, and see it again and experience it again?  Does it help in some way to see it--to give closure on something painful, or have a 'last experience' of the happiness that occurred there?



If this doesn't apply to you, apply it to a character.  What childhood location would he return to?  This says a lot about a person--the places to which they would return, the question of whether they would return to places with good memories or bad memories.

I really don't get back to the places of my childhood.  Not surprising, since they're in Germany, Virginia, Illinois, and Mississippi.  But I find in writing about this prompt (which, by the way, I found in a collection of writing prompts) that I don't have any desire to go back--maybe because throughout my life, it's mostly never been an option.  If I want to 'go back,' I do it in fond memories or pictures.

The places I return to are local, and places that hold happy memories.

I pose this question in relation to Shawn, and yes, I think he is drawn, in his present day life, back to the places he and Niall went in medieval Scotland.  I can easily see him returning to the Eildon Hills, where they waited for the Fairy Queen, or to Stirling Castle, or a number of other places they went.   In Westering Home, we see him take Amy down to the Bat Cave, as he calls it, below Glenmirril, a  place where he was profoundly happy with Niall, Allene, Christina, Hugh, and the Laird.

For a time in The Minstrel Boy, Amy was drawn over and over to the remaining piece of field where the Battle of Bannockburn was fought, just needing to be near where she witnessed what she thought was Shawn's death.

So...tell us your story!  Or your character's story.


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