Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Setting Things Up...

Recently there was some conversation on the Harlequin Blaze Boards about setting. Since I'm currently mulling over my next idea, setting is something that has been on my mind.

Just like in the movies, a book's setting should be an integral part of the story. In my humble opinion at least.

But setting intimidates me because I wouldn't call myself well traveled. I've been to all of the conventional places on the east coast. But since I live in the Southeast, I am most familiar with locations in that region. So I've been debating with myself whether or not I should stick to that area. But then I think... Would that be boring? I find that I often feel like I need to pick settings "away" from me.

Someone pointed out that a lot of Linda Howard's books are set in Alabama. I think that's where she resides. And they said it didn't disturb them that they were mainly set in that area.

The problem with setting my stories "away" is that I'm not as familiar with the places. The internet has a bunch of info, but you know it's not all correct and if you get a detail like that way wrong because of poor information, you stand to piss off some people pretty badly.

Which brings me back to setting my stories where "I know". Thankfully I've been to NY, DC, Miami, & Atlanta in addition to nearly all the areas between, so I do have SOME choices.

Still, I worry over the decision of where to set a story.

So my question is this: How do you decide where to set a story? And is it always somewhere you have been before?



MaryF said...

I hardly ever set stories in Texas. Don't know why. Okay, that's a lie. At least 4 are. But I like foreign settings, even though I've never been out of the country!

Nicole Reising said...

If you choose a setting far away - you could always do an 'asking' for information from people in that area. Just think of using your blog or you could try any number of other sites where you could easily ask someone who lives there. Most people I find would 'love' to share a bit about their area. :-)


Stacy Dawn said...

Ah yes. I am not traveled at all other than one strip of Daytona Beach on a weeks vacation almost ten years ago.

Unfortunately for me, the settings often pop up with the story. I know the story first and then they tell me where they are. For instance the short novella I'm about to start is in Central Park New York. I know zero about New York and it is definately one of those places that you can't afford to goof up on because it is well-known.

Love the idea Nicole and I might end up doing that too.

mary beth said...

I either stick wiht what I know or I come up with a fictional location. With the Internet though, I think you can probably find info on most locations. A few months ago someone did a Q&A on setting and she said she e-mailed the BCI or something similar and asked them to send info if she was using a city she didn't know.

Emma Sinclair said...

I think I've set all of my books in places I've been, but I also fictionalize them a good bit, too.

Like the Maryland coast, but in a made up town, for instance. I'm using what I know but at the same time I don't have to worry about getting details wrong.

Karen Erickson said...

So far all of my settings have been places I've been to cos I'm too scared to write about somewhere I've never been! But there are so many resources out there on the web that I'm tempted to step outside my safety zone and set a story somewhere I've never been sometime soon.

For the first time I'm writing something with a fictional location. Based on actual towns, but a combo of. Yikes.

Sue aka MsCreativity said...

I don't think you should worry about being boring. If you choose a setting in the southeast region, not all your readers are going to be familar with it. I feel the same way when I set my stories in UK locations. What's boring to us can often be interesting to other people.

That said, I also think you can use any setting so long as you immerse yourself in the culture and soak up as much info as you can from research materials.

Julie S said...

What a good question! My current WIP is set in Boston. Why? It just seemed like a place my heroine would live. I've been there, but I haven't spent enough time there to remember the details (except that I like it there).

So, I guess I let my characters dictate where their story takes place.

Sarah L. Castleberry said...

For my 3 stories, I've used two places that I know, and one place I don't.

But, for my current wip, I know the city but made up a fictional restaurant.

So, if you don't know the place or do, you can still play with some of the details...IMHO.

April said...

I'm loving these ideas! And I definately think I'm going to branch out a little. Maybe do a little fictionalizing in my setting. And also take a new look at my own surroundings and remind myself that not everyone will think of it as boring :-)

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