Monday, March 14, 2016

Exploring Setting

Most of my books take place in New England. I’ve called that area home for the past forty-one years so I know it well. Describing it is easy and comfortable. I can focus more on the characters and the storyline because the setting is on auto-pilot.

But is that getting old? Is it boring?

I’m trying to branch out in exploring setting. I won’t stop writing about New England, but there’s room for other places too. The following is a list of The Top Five Settings I’d Like to Try. See what you think.

  1. Australia – I’ve been fascinated by the wildlife found on this continent for eons. It’s time to work it into a story. I’d love to visit there for real sometime, but can probably satiate myself on some virtual vacationing via internet first.
  2. Hawaii – I’m due for a nice Hawaiian romance novel where the hero and heroine lounge on gorgeous beaches and explore volcanoes together. Yeah. Got to do it.
  3. Medieval Times – So here I’m talking about the “when” of setting. I mostly write contemporary romances, but would absolutely love to dip into the time of knights and castles and royalty. There’s so much there to work with that would produce a rich and interesting story.
  4. Another Planet/Galaxy – Something a little intergalactic might be fun. Earth can be rather limiting at times. It could be nice to step outside the Milky Way and toy with a love that makes its home in another galaxy.
  5. Texas – Cowboys. Reason enough, no?

I don’t have storylines or characters for any of these settings yet, but I’m sure some will come along. All my books have started with a character voice whispering in my head. I’ll bet now that I’ve put these settings down in black and white, interested characters will come knocking soon. Better have my writing notebook handy.

If you’re an author, what settings do you want to write about that you haven’t explored yet? If you’re a reader, what settings do you like to read about? What settings would you definitely NOT want to read about?

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Jannine Gallant said...

I'm with you on the comfort zone, Chris. A lot of my books are set in California, but at least our state is big enough to have a lot of different types of settings. But the one coming out in Sept. is a cross country treasure hunt, so I have the flavor of much of the country included. It was fun to force myself to diversify.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Time to pack your bags, Chris. I get lots of my ideas from settings, but in truth, going to that place makes all the difference. I see a deduction in the offing, here. When I found Petersburg, Alaska, as a perfect setting (full of Norwegians and an old unsolved crime), I was writing a book before I left the dock on my boat. Three years later, I returned by boat to sell the book in Petersburg. Fuel and moorage deductible. Yay!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I often set my stories in places I've traveled: Texas, Florida, Paris. I have a series in Scotland and have never set foot there. But I researched the location online, the vegetation, the weather, the wildlife. I search real estate sites to get a feel for how homes look there and if I know an address, I use Just plug in the address and if it's not too remote, you'll get a picture of the address.

Alison Henderson said...

I've set my stories all across the country, but always someplace I've at least visited. Sometimes I use photos for specific settings (even if I change the name), but for all the little details that make up the atmosphere I need some personal experience.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Now that I think about it, most of my books have begun with the setting first. My first book took place on an Alaskan cruise. Similar to the one we'd take a year before. The characters did what we did, saw what we saw, experienced what we experienced. That one kind of wrote itself. My next three books in a series took place in the fictional town in upstate New York my editor made up. The next two in small town USA. Love the Australia location, Chris. Takes place on a wild game preserve or national park, right?

Brenda Whiteside said...

Only one of my stories took place somewhere I'd not spent any time. Normally I use places I've lived or spent a good deal of time in. Since being married, we've lived in 2 countries and 6 states so I have a bit to draw from.

Christine DePetrillo said...

I loved reading all your responses. Setting is so important to me. I dig "visiting" all the places in the books I read and want the same experience for the readers of my books.

Alicia Dean said...

I have tried many settings, although quite a few of my books are set in Oklahoma. I love the idea of the ones you've listed, Chris. Although, New England is sort of my 'dream' area as far as the US goes. I'm fascinated with that part of the country and I think it's the perfect place to set books.