Place and Abstraction

The older I get, the more I appreciate the importance of ‘place.’ It matters in life, in preaching, and in writing. I’m with Percy. I’m not a fan of abstraction:

Place matters. That’s what so many people seem to have forgotten.Is it because they spend most of their time indoors or online – so that they’ve lost touch with their environment? is it because every city contains the same neon-and-concrete gauntlet of Targets, Little Caesars, Subways, Great Clips – so that ever place looks like every other place?

Someone once told me, ‘I want my work to feel like it could happen anywhere.’

To which I responded, ‘Huh.’ That’s like saying you want your character to seem like she could be anyone, Margaret Thatcher or Pippi Longstocking, or you want your story to seem like it could happen anytime, a thousand years ago or a thousand years in the future. Abstraction Sucks. Good writing relies on the particulars.

-Benjamin Percy, Thrill Me: Essays on Fiction, pp. 117-118


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