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I left a piece of my soul in Scotland…but I came back with a ghost whispering in my ear

Listening to: Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials

Mood: Wistful

Recently, I took a much needed vacation and road tripped Scotland for two weeks with my Hubs, and by the end of my time there Scotland had stolen a piece of my soul. I have traveled quite a bit, experienced many cultures, and seen an innumerable amount of beautiful things. But Scotland, the mountains, valleys, lochs, beaches, isles, ruins, and more, took my breath away. Scotland’s landscape is like nothing I’d ever experienced and left me with a sense of awe I knew the thousands of photos I took wouldn’t be able to adequately express.

Scotland has atmosphere. And one that I have yet to experience anywhere else in the world.

The Borders

The Borders, Scotland

Traigh Mhòr, Tolsta, Isle of Lewis, Scotland

Glen Coe, Highlands, Scotland

As writer, I think atmosphere is something we don’t think about as often as we should. One of the things my fantastic agent, Mary, pointed out to me in our final round of BLOODBIRD edits were the various places I was missing atmosphere and hadn’t even realized it. The scenes had purpose, the action and dialogue were great, there was description and all, but the atmosphere was lacking. I’ve seen lots of writerly articles about how to make dialogue more natural, what words to watch out for, and even “rules to follow” and such, but not much is discussed on atmosphere.

And after my trip to Scotland, I think I know why. Atmosphere is, in a sense, almost intangible. It’s not just a description of a location, emotion, or action, it’s a subtle feeling that permeates a scene and becomes as real as the characters. There are no hard and fast rules to atmosphere. I’m not sure I could outline them if I tried, but I am now a lot more aware of the kind of atmosphere that makes your heart sing, while breaking it at the same time, thanks to my trip to Scotland. That sense of awe and emotion I experienced will find its way into everything I write. Scotland has changed me, as a person and a writer, and it will be reflected in all I create moving forward.


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