My usual daily scenery, outside of my personal living space, encompasses New York City. I think of tall buildings, well spaced trees, cars and people- lots of them. Digging deeper as a writer encourages me to ‘experience’ in a very different way.
The subway system is rich for description. It’s teeming with live specimens including the occasional rodents who grace the tracks and platform waste receptacle. This is of the grosser variety of life for most. I, on the other hand, have an entirely different set of sights that I’ve been encouraged to use in my scene writing.
The young women who flip, toss, and pick their lustrous sands- yes, some to the point of pulling, also known as trichotillomania, are high on my list of daily contextual experience. The male who obviously spends time in the gym, who boasts a trim bod in gray pants and sky blue shirt with the perfectly rolled up sleeve, and darts in to grab the seat before us more elegant elder ladies have a chance to is also high on my list. They compete with the young lady, whose skimpy slip-like dress outlines her apple bottom cheeks, that stands not three inches from my nose. All of these vy for inclusion into my novels but somehow these are descriptions of persons in my environment that I prefer to extinguish from my awareness and they may never make it into one of my novels.
An early scene in my first novel Covering the Sun with My Hand has Julia Acevedo enjoying her morning jaunts with Victor on the IRT line. The magnetic pull between them was amazing and fresh for these young lovers. All she could see were the signs above the windows and the doors. Her attention was entirely focused on Victor except for the moment that a poster of the then popular Miss Subway caught her eye and her pathos. This is an early foray into Julia’s thoughts and how she viewed the world. Her question of “what do others think” here is preliminary to the ground work and backstory for this protagonist. This type of writing is so much more important to me than the details of other riders’ peculiar and jarring habits.
How do you use scenery in your writing? If you don’t write, what sort of scenery do you like to read?