(Or, visualisation, if it please you, Beth. ;))
I think writers should be as visual as traditional artists. Perhaps more so, because we need to provide description for a reader, without the benefit of a comic panel or moving image. But, dwelling on description overlong can become tedious for a reader, and that we never want.
“Good morning,” he replied, coming to a slow stop in front of her. He propped his board beside him, shielding her from the bright sun; it didn’t make her any less pretty.
“Ah…Amber, yeah?” he said, feigning blase non-involvement.
She nodded. “And you’re…” She paused a moment. “Fearless?”
He snorted. “Close enough. Ross.”
“Right,” she said. Though from her smile, he guessed she hadn’t needed the reminder, either.
He raised his brow at her. “You need help with something?”
“You said I should stop by,” she reminded him, as she glanced up at the sign of the shop, with its graffiti-style lettering. Looking back to him, she smiled again. “So, here I am.”
“Here you are,” he echoed, as he felt himself break into a smile, too.
That’s the only time the shop sign is mentioned, but I still came up with a design:
Mostly, I did it because I like playing around with graffiti. But, I also think it’s important for a writer to have a firm vision of the world in which their characters live. The more we know – either in our heads or on the page – the less we need to explain to the reader: the details usually invariably find their way into the story on their own.
I design (or, at least, I keep detailed notes for) every location of any import in my stories, from Ross’s living loft above the shop, to Amber’s hospital room, to the Truro flat. I did the same for a Japanese apaato and a country ryokan, a starfaring tramp tanker and a soldier’s little love nest. Because understanding where your characters are will help everyone understand where they go, how, and why (we call that “blocking” in theatre-speak).
How do you design your locations in your stories?