Location, Location, Location… Setting, Setting, Setting
Where does your story take place? Are you using real locations for your setting? If you’re creating this new world, are you creating a history to go with these places? Are you mixing reality with your fiction?
Let’s say my character was in New York City. NYC has a hustle and bustle energy with a constant awareness of the scores of people around you. Rush, rush, rush. But not so much in Oklahoma. Small town, laid back ease. No one around for miles. There’s a different feel.
Just don’t get carried away and make the reader sit through 3 pages while you describe it. Robert Louis Stevenson said, “No human being ever spoke of scenery for above two minutes at a time, which makes me suspect that we hear too much of it in literature.” #nuffsaid
Instead, add in some places that fit. A college. A blacksmith. A castle. A spaceport. Whatever you need. I suggest you find or take photos to help you visualize these locations as you write. I love pixabay for royalty free/attribution free pictures, but there are a ton of sites out there. And if you’re only looking for inspiration – not to publish the pics – you can search for any image the Internet may have.
Me? I use a mix of real and fictional locales. Most of the story takes place in SW Oklahoma. I use the real Greer County, but my city is pure fiction. I’ve renamed a lake to fit my story. I even took video at the base of the actual local dam recently. You can see here the results of a month of heavy rain as the water breaches the spillway. I sketched out a map of my county. And one of locations mentioned in my city. Mostly for consistency in subsequent books, but I’m also fairly visual.
You? Whether you’re in The Shire or heading to Gotham City, create a general location that your reader can see and believe. Get a feel for it. Don’t worry about naming it…yet.
Does it help you if the author includes a map with the book you’re reading? Comment below. I read and respond to all comments. Try me. I’ll even go first: I’m a huge Pooh fan, and Milne’s map of the woods means the world to me. Or, have you seen the map of OZ?
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Being a person who tends to set off on her own, this verse really hits home. Exodus 33:15, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” The journey is so much easier WITH God. When will this come easily to me? Do you have this problem, too?
I love designing my setting from pure imagination – of course, it’s influenced by real places but I love the freedom when I’m not confined to truth.
I also really enjoy exploring the feeling of a space. How does it smell? What does it sound like? I think that goes farther than just describing the colour of the walls…
Kathy Shaull says
Use of textures or smells or a gritty crunching underfoot – all make the setting come alive to me. You’re right. I don’t care what color the wall is. But tell me the plaster has cracks that spiderweb across the wall. That gets my attention.