Locations are an important part of your world. They are the surroundings your characters exist in, whether they are passing through or staying there for an extended period of time. They can be the sites of monumental plot twists that will change how your readers see past and future events, or just the street they walk down to get to the nearby corner store.
Personally, I feel like the first thing you should do is decide what kind of feeling you want your characters, and readers, to feel in this location. Do you want them to feel comfort and warmth, or are you looking to make them quake in their boots — shivering with fear and jumping at every shadow? Not every “magical” location is the deep dark forest where every manner of snarling beasts lurk, just waiting for their next meal to walk by unbeknownst.
Once you have decided on the feeling of that particular location, you can have a better idea of how to execute it. For example, if you want a heavy, solemn feeling as characters travel towards the unknown, you could add fog or mist. The temperature would be lower, their vision would be less, and as a bonus they would likely be much happier when the fog clears and they reach a safe haven.
Of course, the actual surroundings can help as well, so no need to focus on mist or noises. Dark caves are naturally spooky, whereas a fair is naturally a loud place full of good smells and can bring someone joy just by being there. Forests can be useful, as they can go both ways, and a scary forest can lead to a bright forest.
At the same time, you should also consider what kind of scene you have in mind for this location. If you’re looking for a thrilling chase scene, maybe don’t use a largely open area, as the characters would be able to see each other without interruption. There would be no way for the escapees to slip away. But if you use a crowded downtown or a dense forest, your escapees have any number of choice hiding spots, twists and turns to lose their pursuers in.
There are all kinds of locations for you to use in your settings. Open plains, vast mountain ranges, deep caves, and each has their own personality for you to play around with. Have fun with it. That way, your readers and characters will too, unless you’ve put them in prison.
Nick is a second-year student in Algonquin College’s Professional Writing program. He is an avid reader and writer, and can usually be found hiding in a book. He likes rock music and fantasy books, and one day hopes to publish his own work.