Where Do I Set My Story?

25 Apr

“There is no happiness in love, except at the endof an English novel.” (Anthony Trollope in Barchester Towers)

The passage through Dover Castle at the right just can’t help sparking my imagination.

How Does an Author Choose a Setting

Why did I set The Gate House in England?

The simple answer to that question is — because that’s where the story is. But obviously there is more to it than that.

Setting is one of the crucial elements of fiction, but it is not arbitrary. A writer cannot pick up the plot and characters of a story from one location and drop them down unchanged in another. Even though the characters are what make readers care and keep turning the page, setting shapes the characters as much as the other influences in their lives.

I think my fascination with setting comes from my love of travel. I often “see stories” when I visit a location away from home. Different locations evoke ideas of different kinds of emotions and plot ideas. Washington, DC, where I spent a recent week-end, is a setting full of enormous political power and history. A story set there must somehow touch on those elements. A trip to Lincolnshire, England, where my husband’s family originated, inspired The Gate House, when we spent an unplanned couple of nights in a bed and breakfast of that name. This setting called me to create a story of mystery and the layers of history that are so present in England.

Setting can almost be considered another character, as the time and place of the story interact with the other elements. Literary themes and human emotions may not change over time, but how the pieces fall together can create unique and compelling stories.

Do you every choose a novel based on the setting? Are there certain setting you prefer?

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2 Responses to “Where Do I Set My Story?”

  1. pinionpost April 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    That’s always the test I do to see if my setting is working the way it should. I ask myself “if I let this plot play out in another setting, would it be changed?” and if the answer is no or not really, I know my setting isn’t as active in the story as it should be.

  2. ahamin April 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    Well the setting is very important, and it depends on the story it self, and what do you want from it
    I placed my plot in Emirates because I wanted diversity. So location depends on what you want in your novel.
    Best of luck 🙂

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