If you have ever stood in front of mountains, a large forest, or in front of the ocean, you might have felt a call to write about your experience.
Although a lot of us live indoors these days, nature still shapes so much of our lives and experiences in the world. Learning how to write about nature can make your novels even better.
Nature has been the topic of countless stories and personal essays throughout time. Even if you are writing a fictional book, there are most likely still elements of nature you will want to include throughout your story.
Nature can shape so much of a story, too. That is why so many creepy stories are set in remote cabins or in bad snowstorms. It adds a whole other element to deal with.
We will be going over some basics of what nature writing is, why it is important, and what you need to do to practice nature writing.
The Interest In Nature Writing
Since the dawn of time, nature has played a huge role in books.
Whether it was describing the weather, documenting their journeys through nature, the call of the wild, writing a story that includes nature, or something else, it has been a common theme.
Of course, more people in the past spent time in the natural world compared to today and our air-conditioned offices, but as a writer you might need to include more nature writing into your book.
While there are not specific rules on how to write about nature, there are a few things you can do to help practice nature writing, which we will get into in a bit.
What is Nature Writing?
While there is not technically one definition to nature writing, the Wikipedia definition for it is, “nonfiction or fiction prose or poetry about the natural environment.”
That is a pretty wide definition, so it can be technically hard to pinpoint what fits in the boundaries of nature writing.
For the purpose of this article, let's assume that you are writing a novel and you want to include elements of nature in your story, or make it the central point of conflict.
Why Write About Nature
There are a lot of reasons that people might want to write about nature.
You might want to write strictly about nature in a scientific way.
You might want to include nature as a huge part of the book you are writing. Most novels include nature writing in some way, shape, or form, even just to set a backdrop for where the characters are.
Some take it another level, and make nature a whole driving force behind the plot. For example, if characters are stranded at sea, the ocean itself is its own driving force.
Alternatively, you could even be creating a whole new type of planet or nature in one of your books, but you need to pull inspiration from certain aspects of nature in order to create it.
How to Write About Nature
Now that we have covered some of the basics of nature writing, now we will dive into some tips and tricks you can use to get started.
#1 – Spend more time observing nature
It is hard to write about something you do not know much about. It is a good idea to spend more time in nature observing everything you can.
Bring a notebook with you and notice how the ground looks, what colors are all around you, any animals you see, mythical creatures and characters you're imaging, the sounds you notice, and everything else you experience. Get your hands in some dirt and make a note of how it feels.
A lot of us did this in school when we were growing up, but lose touch with this practice over time.
It is one of the fastest ways to start writing about nature again.
#2 – Individualize the story
Whether you want to focus on the character's individual experience with nature or a personal story you are writing, you need to make the story specific.
Maybe you want to focus on a particular event, or a specific type of tree that is in your story.
#3 – Consider if the nature you are writing about has a deeper meaning
A lot of authors use nature to represent deeper meanings in their stories.
For example, sure, Moby Dick is about hunting a giant whale, but it is not really about that.
One of the interpretations of the whale is accepting the greater forces that have power over us, which some people refuse to submit to and instead spend their lives rallying against.
#4 – Utilize the other senses
One of the powerful parts of writing about nature is being able to tie the other senses into your writing to put your reader into your story.
Nature sounds, nature smells, and even the ways particular things in nature feel can help heighten the senses of the reader.
Even think of the difference between, “The wind blew” and “The crisp, fall breeze whipped through the trees.”
You can imagine the cooler breeze due to the cooler temperatures, or maybe you can mentally imagine a fall day.
Book Examples That Are About Nature
While there are tons of books that take a scientific approach to nature writing, we will look at different types of nature books.
Most of our audience is people who want to write their own novels, so here are some books that use nature as a backdrop or a huge influence in their work.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
If you did not read this book or see the movie starring Reese Witherspoon, it is the story about a 22-year-old woman who decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. As you can imagine, nature plays a huge role in this story since she is on her own in the wilderness.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau
You cannot talk about nature books without mentioning Walden, since it is one of the most famous books involving nature.
This story is about Thoreau's journey into the woods where he lived for two years in his cabin on Walden Pond. It is about his time reconnecting to living a simple life.
Love Letter to the Earth by Thich Nhat Hanh
This book is a love letter from the well-known Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, to the natural world.
The book focuses on the idea that we are not separate from the natural world, even though we feel like we are with all of our modern living.
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