Back to the Mosque – Story Flavour

One of the fabulous things about being in the location you are writing and researching about, you can always go back again.

The first time I went to the Grand Mosque of Paris I was quite frankly overawed by its beauty.

I was so busy looking and writing and taking photos that I kind of forgot to stop and smell the incense.

So yesterday I went back there to just sit and enjoy the ambience. To invite all my senses to participate in the experience.

I savoured the fragrance of the flowering wisteria. I saw the kind man feeding the pigeons.

I looked for the finer detail. I visited the library, and stopped to enjoy the moment of being surrounded by amazing books and history. 

I sipped mint tea and ate delicious pastries.

I discovered that it’s this kind of detail that turns your story location into a unique setting.

For me, being in the world of my story has added a whole new layer.

Have you ever had this experience? I’d love to hear about it.

Happy writing 🙂

Dee

This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria 

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8 thoughts on “Back to the Mosque – Story Flavour

  1. I connect with this post. Beautiful photos.

    When I traveled to my story location of present-day Ukraine, I had the plot and characters figured out, but what traveling did was give me the sensory detail—the spices. You can’t know what you’re missing until you’re there. For example, the scent of linden blossoms.

  2. It’s wonderful following your research and travels, Dee. Lovely photos!

    I’m working on (should be working more intently on) a creative biography of England’s most noted hermit who boarded himself up in his house in 1845 and never left it for 25 years …but he was visited by up to 400 tourists and tramps a day who came to see who would be given gin and cash by the hermit through the kitchen window and who would be pelted with rock-hard stale loaves. One visitor was Charles Dickens, who subsequently wrote a short story about his experience.

    The hermit’s house was a wreck when he died and has been bulldozed, and the site is now a farm field scattered with bricks, so I have brick and tile fragments close beside me while I write and I feel more connected to the place.

    Are you bring any relevant souvenirs of the period back with you?

    On my last visit I sat and lingered beside the pond where Dickens rested and reflected on the spectacle and his discussion with the hermit, and I also walked the footpaths locals used to return from the house to the pub.

    I spent unhurried time in the church the hermit went to as a young man before incarcerating himself, stood under the window of his sweetheart’s house and walked in the woods and fields where he would have hunted with the hounds. Pity I couldn’t have ridden on horseback…

    I’ve no idea what will end up in the story, but yes, absorbing the atmosphere without rushing around taking photos has certainly helped me get a heightened feel of the setting.

    May the words keep flowing for us both!

    .

  3. Thanks Gabe, and thanks for sharing your story about Ukraine.

    Being able to add that sensory detail really does make such a difference doesn’t it?

    Loved your example of linden blossoms. Scent adds such atmosphere 🙂

  4. Wow Peter, your story sounds amazing.

    What a fascinating place too. Isn’t it great to be able to do this kind of research … to actually be there.

    Do you know why this man became a hermit? Can’t wait to hear more about your story.

    My words have been flowing.

    Hope yours are too 🙂

    Dee

  5. As you know, I grew up in East Africa. From time to time we would head to the States for a few months. Whenever we landed back in Addis Ababa, we’d all step off the plane and inhale, and then exhale in relief. We were home again! There is a spiciness to the air that mixes wood smoke, spice, gum trees, diesel fumes, unwashed people,,and red dirt that is nowhere else on the globe. I imagine India might be the closest to it. The US smells sanitized to me, even after all these years in it. Hawaii smells like fruit, flowers, and sunshine, and Australia like gum trees and something else I couldn’t quite grasp. I’m sure it’s a generalization, because each place has it’s own scent, but these are what I picked up from the places I traveled to. I currently live on the Oregon coast, and here it’s the tang of the ocean, wood smoke, coastal pines, sand, moss (on the trees) and rain. I’ve carried this scent with me since I was a tot, and I finally get to live here. Sometimes life dreams really do come true.

    Smell ties to emotions, and it’s important to write with all our senses. So glad you went back. Those photos are a feast for the eyes. My heart jumped with joy at the fountain and the lovely formal setting, which works in a story I’m doing now, too (set in ancient Persia, but the palace has fountains in gardens, and with a bit of tweaking, it helped cement what I needed). Thank you for sharing this journey.

  6. Thanks Deb for sharing the beautiful evocative descriptions of the places you have lived and travelled to.

    You sure have a lot to write about.

    Smell is such an evocative thing isn’t it.

    Glad I have helped you with your story 🙂

    Dee

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