In introducing my Hillsdale Book, I'll speak of "characters" and "place," and "language" with which they interact--which creates them, in fact.
Of course, all of these terms are subject to complication. The place, an urban suburb, figures in narratives of geology (land as covered with two miles of ice, then a post-glacial lake), history (land as buffalo habitat and corresponding First Nations), sociology (land as urban planning, the post-war western suburb). The characters carry their inner landscapes--their arrays of experience, anxiety, desire, dreams, etc. Any act of language attempting to represent such processes must be multiple--polyphonic, open-formed, narrative or lyric or documentary, textual or visual. And it must play, or the place and characters will sink into their own essences. It must be as light on its feet as possible, trusting that any truth of any matter will be assembled as/from the language moves.
So one character, a boy moving to the brand new suburb with his parents, will speak his perspective. A traveller, visiting every street in Hillsdale as he might the countries of western Europe, responds to his own past and to contemporary perceptions. A woman named Flo speaks from her experience of moving to Hillsdale when it was new and living there still. Subject, all of this, to fooling around.
The elephant in this room is the passage of time, which the boy, the traveller, Flo and the others implicitly express, as life does, needless to say.
All of that's a little long. And I will have had a beer or two with Dan ahead of time. So I'll probably just say "This thing called "Hillsdale"--no relation to my own name, by the way--is made from characters, place, language. You can put your own Hillsdale together right here, tonight from the bits I'm about to read you."
And away we go.
After that: some pieces of dog (a character) on the Scarborough bluffs . . .