Q&A With A Wordsmith: Choosing Settings

On Writing, Random Thoughts

Heya Lovelies,

As a writer taking a rather unique path, I often receive a wide range of questions. So far, I’ve covered some broad topics which you can find here and I’ll continue to shed some light on further questions. With luck, you’ll gain some understanding and insight along the way.

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, feel free to comment or drop me an email.


Question:
How did you decide on the settings for your books?

Answer:

During my days at university, I read about settings and how to pick the right one. I can’t recall if it was something included in one of my many writing classes, or if it was something I read elsewhere, but let me explain it as I remember it.

When a writer has a story idea in mind — even in the earliest stages of a story’s inception — it’s always good to think about settings. There are many things to consider, such as the story itself and the cast of characters. Even the genre of the story will play a part.

So let’s start with the genre. If you’re writing fantasy, odds are, you’re creating your own world — which means you are going to fabricate the location based on what your story requires. If you’re writing romance, especially a series, these tend to take place in small, pretty towns or bigger cities, depending on the story. These places can be fictitious, but they’re based in our reality and *could* exist. 

Derry, Maine — a famous and also fictitious town created by Stephen King is an excellent example of this. It’s not a bustling city like Bangor, but one of those smaller towns where everyone knows each other. And despite all the crazy things and deaths that happen, it’s not deserted.

It’s no secret that the genesis of my whole series began with a quick dream. A man leaning against an ornate light pole, looking out at a street of shopping pedestrians lined with cute little shops, with a hazy purple glow surrounding him. 

That was it. That was the dream.

The thing was: The place reminded me of one a few short hours away from where I grew up. I could envision the story happening there — with the town and it’s various people, shops, restaurants — even the neighboring rolling hills, farmlands, and the forests within Indiana’s largest state park. 

When it comes to deciding the location (or several) you have to consider what happens, too. Ask yourself: Does it make sense for the story’s events to take place there? 

Ultimately, you want readers to understand on some basic level that your story couldn’t have taken place anywhere else. 

Could you imagine Pennywise The Dancing Clown terrorizing Los Angeles and living in some unused part of the city’s subway system? 

Could you imagine the hobbits of Tolkien’s realm gallivanting around on Florida’s beaches?

Could you imagine the stones at Craig’s na Dun near Inverness actually standing in the middle of New York City’s Central Park?

The answer to those questions is no. The tales just wouldn’t be right if they aren’t in the right place for it. 

So when it came to considering the setting for Just Breathe and the events that would take place, there wasn’t any better place than Nashville, Indiana. 

If you’re struggling to find your story’s setting, consider your characters, what they’ll be doing, and eliminate places that don’t work until you find the one that does. 


Coming up, I’ll talk about how I decided whether to pants or plot through my books. 

Until next time,
Sarah

P. S. If you’d like to learn more about me, the Earthen Witch universe, my writing in general, or my other pursuits, feel free to peruse.

P. P. S. If you are interested in learning more about me, my books, and other various, important topics on a monthly basis, along with access to a free, ever-growing resource library of downloadable content, sign up for my newsletter.

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