Locations in narratives are not used randomly, but very purposefully to transport certain emotions. Furthermore, settings have a characterising effect. In this chapter, you will learn what functions locations fulfil in love stories.
What are “locations of love”?
Certain locations appear again and again in stories. The “bedroom”, a “café”, the “theatre”, the “workplace” – these are places that have a certain effect on the recipient. But also the big city, a village or a small town transport a message. Locations are consciously used in films and narratives to fulfil certain functions. The sea stands for loneliness and tranquility. People who live by the sea are probably looking for just that. The desert stands for something similar. And also the mountains. If a character lives in the big city, he is perceived as sociable and bustling. For many viewers, a life in the small town is a sign of mediocrity.
Locations have the important function of being meeting and separating points. You can meet someone in a taxi, but also on a bus, on a plane or in a bar. However, at the same places a separation can also take place. Or you can move the separation scene of a film into a private environment. For example in a back room, a bedroom or a hotel room.
Locations as carriers of emotions
It is a challenging task to correctly use places in narratives. Places have a magical power, whether they are positive or negative. “Verdun” stands for one of the most costly battles of mankind with many victims. “A beach in Hawaii” gives a holiday feeling as soon as we see it.
Scenes are always emotionally charged and can transport feelings. Similar to objects, places like “Verdun” or “Hawaii” can also preserve emotions and awaken memories of actors if they have experienced something there.
Locations as a means of characterization
You can describe the scene of a story down to the smallest detail: What kind of house does your character live in? Is it a tenement barracks or a sophisticated villa? Is it a simple row house or an old dump? Is it an old caravan or a half-timbered house? All this says something about the character of a figure and should be taken into account for characterization.
The place where someone lives says a lot about a person. The sea is romantic, so people with a romantic disposition tend to live there. In the lonely mountains live rather reserved people. In the big city there are outgoing and communicative people. And in the small town there are more down-to-earth people. At least that’s what many people think.
You can design a character according to the expectations of the spectator or the reader – or exactly contrary to them. It’s easy to settle a romantic by the sea. But what if you describe there a eccentric person who does not want to make contact with others. This eccentric guy then accidentally meets an attractive, sociable woman – and an interesting story can begin.
When choosing a location, always play with the expectations of the viewer or reader: In “Titanic”, the ship classes mark a social dividing line. In the first class you will find the high society, in the third class the common people.
Jack, who belongs to the common people, surprises his environment in first class with his elegant appearance and his unerring choice of words. Rose surprises the audience when she comes into the third class, dances exuberantly and does not appear stiff at all, as one would expect from a lady.
Thus, the environment in which a person moves creates expectations. A figure acquires depth when it behaves contrary to the expectation and overcomes the boundaries of its surroundings.
At the beginning of the plot, characters are often trapped in their behaviour patterns. This behaviour is determined by the environment in which the figure lives. By getting to know another person, a character can change his behaviour and break out of the conventions of his environment.
Cinematic narratives that show such social outbursts often have a great success, as we can see from “Titanic”, “American Beauty”, “One, Two, Three” or “Pretty Woman”.
Locations create proximity or distance
Locations can specifically spread an atmosphere that creates a basis for approaching or distancing oneself. In a doctor’s waiting room where many people are sitting, or on the street where many people are out and about, or in a shop where many people shop, it will be rather difficult to make an approach.
On the other hand, the private apartment, a nice café, the car, a park, the cinema or a disco are good places for approaches. Do not choose places simply because you like it there yourself, but from the point of view of the dramaturgical function they should fulfil.
But here, too, you can play with and violate the expectations of readers or viewers. Precisely because it takes a lot of effort to address another person in a crowded train, such a situation can be amusing and exciting for the viewer or reader.
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