Setting Coordinates

From the series Breathing Life

“And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of the land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel (Tigris): that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.” – Genesis 2:10-14

public-domain-images-free-stock-photos-high-quality-resolution-downloads-public-domain-archive-7Was that a wordy set of directions? Did you skim over it? It doesn’t mean much to me because I don’t know these places. They aren’t giving me a picture in my mind of the setting, but I love that aside Moses gives them. “…Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of the land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.” Like any wealth-loving humans, you know their ears perked up at that. (“Oh, yeah! That Havilah!”)

Maybe the river Pison doesn’t relate to you, but what if I told you about a Native American girl living in the 1800s?

“Talula and her tribe never explored the Grand Canyon to the west or went beyond the Mississippi River to the east. One year, her tribe migrated as far as South Dakota, so she may have been near Mount Rushmore — you know, where our four presidents are inscribed in stone today. When she and her Chahta family returned south, they settled in the marshlands near the Gulf of Mexico.”

Now that I’ve given you U.S.-savvy readers some boundaries, is it easier to map it out in your mind’s eye? This is what Moses was doing. He was using current-day names and locations so the children of Israel would know the general area where the first man and woman lived. It wasn’t some legendary Atlantis.

Eden was a land in the Israelites’ memory, as well. We call it the Garden of Eden because that’s how Moses described where it was to the people; it was in the land of Eden. But it was just a garden on earth for Adam and Eve. It was only when they and their descendants began to walk the earth that places started getting named. And don’t we humans love to name things after ourselves? (Because of this, Oregon residents are probably still getting flack about that town, Boring.)

Recap: When setting your setting, remember readers need coordinates that are relevant to their interests.

Naming gets serious next time.

*Featured image by Keriography. Used by permission.


Author: Rilla Z

I'm a scribbler. I write about this world, the worlds inside my head, and the world to come.

8 thoughts on “Setting Coordinates”

  1. School used to feel that assisting students in improving their memories was of great importance. Kids memorized poems, artists and their paintings and quotes as well as math facts. All those memories in adulthood enriched and were springboards of ideas and life. (Travel and exploring new lands was also considered vital for an educated person as it created images that would connect to things in the future).
    Animals and birds build memory for migration and survival.
    You are right. We should be trying to help kids gain the skill. That way lessons and books read mean more if you’ve seen the places for real
    (Although the Plains Indians who traveled from Mexico to Canada, rarely “settled” in marsh lands along the Gulf /other Coastal regions as those do not offer what was necessary for their lifestyle and culture. Besides, the cannibals and some rather aggressive tribes who claimed those lands. But they certainly did travel to meet other tribes to trade goods – one local place is nearby on the bay…so your memory topic is quite on point there.)


    1. Memorization isn’t as vital when information is at your fingertips, which is the reality today. I think like you, though: kids need to exercise their concentration by memorization activities. Classical Conversations uses music as a memorization method. (I’m not sold on classical conversations, but I think tapping into the memory through music is super important.)

      I tend to store info about things when I’m writing that I don’t end up using. Trivia about the Chahta tribe was one of those. Trivial, but it works in an example. 😁

      Thanks, Phil!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. With the world and life going at warp speed these days we need all the memory – both digital and grey matter – we can get!
        It seems memory development is what motivates many parents to have their kids take piano/violin/music lessons as well as joining chess clubs.
        Music, so mathematical and pattern driven , maybe be vitally important.
        Trivia always finds a use – no waste of time with that…especially for a writer.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. So true about the pace of our world. And it’s fascinating how music creates a door to memory when other doors are closed. The aged can lose their ability to converse, but start singing a song they know and they will sing it with you!

          Liked by 1 person

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