There’s a character not mentioned as much when people review books. Even in my own reviews rarely do I give this character the accolades it deserves and that character’s name is Setting. Often, if the writer is doing their job, the setting will blur seamlessly into the story and at no time will I wonder where the characters are or how they got there. In some cases, if it’s not present enough I’ll be thrown out of the story. In others, it will make me doubt the validity or reality of the story.
Why is it important?
The setting makes the difference in a great scene or a so-so scene. It grounds the reader in the story as well as the emotions being conveyed. Setting’s can affect other characters moods. It’s important to have a good lay of the land, figuratively and literally. Having the blueprints to a house or an apartment are important in a thriller. Proper placement is a must. A map of the imaginary land created in your latest fantasy is key to understanding why it took character four weeks to get somewhere.
Honestly, this is quite silly. No doubt if you’re writing a fantasy you’ve already got the map of the land in your mind’s eye. For sci-fi lovers, I suggest watching lots of movies with different types of spaceships. Jot down notes about what you liked and didn’t like. For those writing paranormal and contemporary the location becomes even more interesting. It’s easier to write about a city you’ve visited or lived in, though the internet can provide a lot of information now.
For house breakdowns, I tend to start with again ones I’ve lived in or even friends houses. It’s a place to start. All the little details can come into play and wreak havoc for characters. From in-ground pools to security systems, there are lots of ways to play with things.
Tools I’ve Used
Some of the tools I’ve used for researching cities, houses, spaceships, and other areas include:
- Google Maps/Reviews
- Apartment complexes
- Hotel websites
- Paint, Carpet, Fabric swatches
For the readers – Is setting important to you in the story? Do you notice when it’s off?
For the writers – What resources do you use to research settings in your story?