Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Home Away from Home

by Lisa Bullard

10_22I like to play a cer­tain game when I’m trav­el­ing. I pre­tend that the place I’m vis­it­ing is my home, and I imag­ine how my life would have been altered if I had in fact tak­en root in that oth­er envi­ron­ment.

How would things be dif­fer­ent for me if my world swirled amidst New York City’s self-ful­fill­ing ener­gy? If my abode was perched atop a fog-shroud­ed island in the Pacific North­west? If I was plant­ed on the lip of a tall-grass prairie, with the world drop­ping off into noth­ing­ness on the oth­er edge of the great grass sea? If I dreamed my dreams in a twig-built hut?

Part of a writer’s task is to cre­ate alter­na­tive home­lands, to build dis­tinc­tive worlds for each of our char­ac­ters to inhab­it. Once we have our world craft­ed, we invite read­ers to make them­selves at home there too. We hope that they will want to hun­ker down into this habi­tat that we have fash­ioned and make it a part of them­selves; to allow it to take up res­i­dence in their hearts and imag­i­na­tions.

One of the eas­i­est ways to teach young writ­ers about envi­sion­ing an envi­ron­ment is to talk with them about the worlds they have wan­dered through in their fan­ta­sy read­ing. Good fan­ta­sy writ­ers are mas­ters at the art of world-build­ing, and stu­dents can learn a lot by mean­der­ing through the key­board­ed land­scapes of these writ­ers who have built worlds before them.

Once you have had a chance to help stu­dents rec­og­nize the impor­tance of “place” in the sto­ries that they have loved read­ing, start them writ­ing with the Fan­ta­sy Land activ­i­ty found here. It will help your young writ­ers begin to visu­al­ize a “home away from home”—a place where they might house their next sto­ry.

 

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