Please join me in welcoming today's Roses' guest, Nel DuVall.
Setting is an important element of any story. In some novels, setting becomes almost a character influencing the action. Two well-known examples are Hemmingway’s Old Man and the Sea and Joyce Carol Oates’ Black Water.
Setting should seem believable to the reader whether a real place or an imagined one. I have been fortunate to live many places including overseas. I’ve traveled extensively both for business and please. Participating in various Earthwatch projects took me to interesting places and allowed me to take in variety of activities from an archaeological digs to environmental surveys. Conferences in foreign countries introduced me to other cultures and places. Vacations also added to these. All have contributed something to the settings used in my novels.
Not all writers have those opportunities, but they can research setting in other ways through the internet, via documentaries, books, photographs, and a variety of media. Writers need to develop a feel for their setting and how it influences and interacts with their characters. Setting provides an important element of texture to writing.
Popular icons are gloomy castles, a haunted Victorian house, a farm on the prairie, a seaport, a big city like Paris, London, San Francisco, Chicago, or New York. Each carries certain connotations or associations for the reader. The writer can use those expectations or chose instead to create new ones, but in the latter case, the storyteller must understand the setting and make changes skillfully and in a believable manner.
My own novels have used both familiar and strange, other worldly settings. My two time travel romances were set in Ohio, but mainly in the past. They took a lot of research and access to old maps and newspapers. I also visited the places as they now exist, including the canal and real railroad line used in Train to Yesterday. In a mystery, Selvage, I lived in the area where the novel takes place. However, the setting for Beyond the Rim Light by Alex Stone (Nell DuVall and Steven Riddle) was the far future and outer space. That one took some knowledge, but a lot of imagination.
My current series, Murder in the Shadows, involves Columbus, Ohio, and eventually Ireland. My newly released novel Murder in Her Dreams is set in Columbus. I have been to the various locations mentioned in the novel so setting posed no problems and did not require extensive research.
Next time you read a novel or write one, look at the setting and see how the author has used it to provide a sense of believability and realism to the novel. Is setting just there or does it influence the characters and the action?
You can find all my books (print and ebook) under Nell DuVall on Amazon, most of them on Barnes and Noble, and other book and ebook retailers. Melange Books has the recent offerings, including Murder in Her Dreams. Check out my website at www.nellduvall.com.