Finding Ourselves in Each Other’s Places

One of the most significant questions we’ve been asking about locative narratives is why?

We’ve been wondering, of course, why writers are interested in site-specific stories, and why digital media technologies to locate stories in particular places are of value. We’ve been wondering why and how narratives that explore the relationship between place and story are compelling. And beneath all that is a concern for our audience.

Many of you have been writing personal narratives; stories that reveal or bring to life the relationship you have with a place or set of places. Even if you are writing fiction, you are doing so from a singular, imaginative perspective. The question that inevitably follows any first-person narrative is an extension of the why question: why should any other reader care?

What about your locative narrative will add, illuminate, or reveal something site-specific to me (or any reader)?

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It’s easy to forget about the reader when you’re consumed with the evocative, place-based sensory details of your own experience. But all good writing seeks to build a bridge between writer and reader, to welcome the reader into the writer’s world. This is especially significant when the world — the place — is the star of the story.

Our peer response today, then, won’t actually focus on the locative narrative; we will focus, instead, on the location. We will offer feedback on the place itself.

Here’s how it will work:

Each author will write their name in this Google doc, followed by a bulleted list of the most central place or places to their locative narrative-in-progress. Those of you writing on figurative, fictional, or mythic places should still be able to do this, since even those places have other layers, other stories, other meanings to be excavated.

Each reader will be assigned three authors; your job as a responder will be to learn as much about each author’s place(s) as you can, and tell the author what you learned, and what you like. Insert into that Google doc that details, facts, images, song lyrics, poetry, film clips, artwork, etc.

Find whatever you can about the place, then tell the author what you find most fascinating, lovely, inspiring, intriguing, weird, creepy, or hilarious about the place that is their central subject.

The goal of this exercise is to remind you authors that your places have innumerable layers to them already; yours is just one layer, and it may not be the one most interesting or appealing to your readers. What you do with the details you receive from your responders today is entirely up to you, but I strongly urge you to consider finding a way to add layers, to further your figurative exploration of the place, to go deeper.

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