And as to Where

… in the world are we, specifically for this story (for the earlier parts of this process, start here), let’s lay open the map.

Readers like to know where they are, where this story is, so they can orient themselves.

That doesn’t mean explaining. Anytime the writer feels the need to explain makes the reader feel as if they’re being treated badly, spoken down to. So don’t explain, but let them know where they are in this story.

For my story, it needs to be a rural enough property that the mob of roos is a regular and unsurprising event. They’re there every day. That means it’s not urban, not even in the outer sprawl of suburbs. It needs to be far enough away from the edges of somewhere, but because the kid makes deliveries, it also needs to be close enough that he can get there without a car.

Oh, then comes the problem of how he gets the deliveries to the old lady. That’s another reason the setting can’t be too far from a town. If the kid had a car, the crooks would just take it and this story would never happen.

Never let the impossible nor the unbelievable happen just because it helps keep the story going. The kid could be on a scooter thingy (more research on the type, maybe a Honda 125cc road scooter, on its last legs), or he could be on a bicycle (how would he get the groceries there fast enough? Okay, not a bicycle).

Anyway, the setting.

Not too close to town, not too far. Other farms not too far away, but not close.

And there has to be a prison or a prisoner work release program close by. No, release is the wrong word, but (more research) the type of program where prisoners are escorted to a place for a specific purpose. In this case, either close to a country town, or in a semi-rural area.

Oh, and the gully at the back of her house. That means it can’t be Western Australia. Why? Not a common thing there, most places too sandy. Some places, but not many, and not close to towns. They do have a country prison community that often use prisoners in work placements, but not the gully.

Not South Australia. There are one or two places where it could be set, but they don’t do the release programs like that.

How about Victoria? I know lots of places in Victoria where there are good sites for this setting. Most country towns have smaller farms and farmlets way off the main road but close to town, and with good, deep gullies. And lots of roos. Of course, there are lots of roos almost everywhere (the other day a few wandered through the main square in the city – not kidding).

Not Ballarat, though, that might be a bit too close to the public transport hubs. The crooks wouldn’t need to do what they do if there’s public transport nearby. However, there are lots of smaller country towns with the right landscape. Further west. I’ll look into a few, or maybe north west of Ballarat.

That’s where this story will be set.

The opening could start something like:

The flexi-fence outside the chook run needed a bit of fixing. Dee put the secateurs in the box and looked around for the wire-cutters. The big roo lifted his head over the hedge on the west side. She was late for his treat.

The kid was late with his deliveries. If she didn’t give the roo something soon, he’d get cranky and start demolishing the fence around the garden. Again.

How long did it take to get from [town name] to here? It was only ten kilometres, and the kid was never late. What if he wasn’t coming? Or broken down? That old scooter was too far past its prime to be reliable. What if he’d been in an accident?

The big roo flicked his ears, looked toward the road. Dee followed his gaze. Dust rose along the long driveway lined with cypress pines.

That’d be the kid. Finally. She could make the roo his treat and fix the fence without worrying whether he’d eat her garden while she had her back turned. Dee dropped the tools into the box and washed her hands.

And there’s a bit of setting, a bit of tension, a bit of feed-in to the story. And I found the old lady’s name. It started as Diana, but the Diana as huntress has been done to death, so it’s now Dee Ambrose (amber is a colour, so what colour medal do you think she might have won at the Olympics?).

And if I still can’t think of how to do the backstory for the crooks by tomorrow, I’ll do an interview with them. Which means I need to give them names. Names that suit them and their role in this story. And voices that suit who they are, what they do. Not my voice, not my opinions.

16 thoughts on “And as to Where

  1. What about if it’s a mental hospital instead of a prison they escape from? I say that because I think of the place where Frank Prem and his parents worked, up on the hill. Do they have gullies around there? I like how you are building the story through sensory descriptions, with the roo’s ears flicking and the dust on the road. Question, and I do NOT mean to be offensive by the question, so please, I’m ignorant about it: are kangaroos edible? I’m guessing no.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Um, yes, Kangaroos are food to the indigenous people, the meat is sold is specialist butchers, and a lot of pet food contains roo. Definitely edible.

      There are almost no mental hospitals in Australia now, and rapidly declining, all becoming part of the general medical system.
      Yes, I know the area around where Frank is, but not well enough (and it’s too cold! They have snow there). The areas I know are water-deficient, often in drought, and that brings the roos closer to human interaction.
      Although, the place I worked in Canberra had roos in the car park every morning, and they weren’t inclined to get out of the way.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the info. They shut down most of the mental hospitals here also. There is one up in Traverse City that they are turning into a boutique shopping complex. Oh, the irony.

        I didn’t know Australia had places where it snows. I’m guessing a roo blocks your path it could get tense. How do/did you manage to get around them? Or will you explain that in your book?

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      • If I do the story, I’ll demonstrate how dangerous they in the two worst situations: mating moments, and territory moments. They are wild creatures, fluffy and cute, but those big claws on the back legs can rip the soft belly open to the backbone. They balance on the tail and kick at their opponents for play and defence, but humans don’t have thick enough skin to front up to a roo. Like all wild animals, respect the distance or have a way out (often not enough trees here solid enough or close enough). No human can outrun a roo (close to 50mph is recorded). there are also the moments we make them nervous and they attack rather than wait for the nervous behavior of the human to do the mob harm (roos recognise guns, hunter stances).

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  2. How interesting it is to follow your logical development of location. Whilst the story is clearly Australian you could still invent a location, of course, but I can see that you are looking for authenticity. Have you read ‘A Fraction of the Whole’? Very Australian and featuring prisoners and prisons quite a bit ….

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  3. Pingback: That First Page | Cage Dunn: Writer, Author, Teller-of-tall-tales

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