While it is true that great characters help make a great story, proper development of the story’s location is also important. The cool thing about location is that you can make it what you want . . . within reason. Let’s consider that we’re talking about fiction. With fiction, you are in charge. You can paint the landscape as you see fit. Here is the “within reason” caveat. If you’re writing about Death Valley, you’ll lose credibility if you talk about the lush green spaces on your landscape. There are always exceptions to the rule. If you are writing science fiction and your story is about a science project where the protagonist is a botanical scientist whose project is turning Death Valley into lush green space, you might get away with luscious green space . . . okay, I’m rambling. But with the right author, potentially a great story location.
Location . . .
Many authors use locations that most of us would avoid. John Sandford’s Prey series is set in Minnesota. I’m thinking cold, boring, lots of wilderness Minnesota. Sandford’s stories are best-sellers before they hit the shelves. Not only are they great story lines, but his descriptions of various locations in Minnesota and surrounding states is superb. John Grisham uses locations in the south, primarily in Mississippi. Not exactly your tropical paradise. But he very effectively fits his characters in this setting and writes superb stories.
And . . . Location
Many authors use major cities within the United States as their playground for their novels. New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, easily come to mind. But not every great novel is rooted in a major urban area. Nicholas Sparks uses small town North Carolina as a backdrop for many of his novels, and quite successfully.
With that in mind, spending time to research details about where your story is set is important. Just as important is making sure your characters fit well in your setting, and it doesn’t have to be The Big Apple or the City of Angels. As long as your location is presented in such a way that your readers connect with it through their senses, and your characters blend in naturally as the plot flows from your fingertips onto your screen (or pen to paper), you can place your story anywhere and have a potential best seller.
My next two novels will both be located in eastern Georgia; one in Savannah, the other in a rural setting south of Statesboro. The locations are less than sixty miles apart, but couldn’t be more different. I hope you’ll follow along as I develop these stories, their unique characters, and their intriguing locations.
Consider These Writing Habits is a monthly blog by Loconeal Mystery-Suspense author P. J. Grondin. Visit www.pjgrondin.com for a list of P. J. Grondin book signings and events.