Set in Setting

Reflecting Lake, Yosemite
Reflecting Lake, Yosemite

Where does setting come from? Sometimes it writes itself; a space opera has to be set in an imaginary galactic cruiser, or a period piece in glorious Victorian mansions. But what about stories without a prescriptive setting, like a love story between two twenty-something’s in modern times? A Brooklyn apartment, or the suburbs of Atlanta?

When I’m creating stories, the setting “just sorta” appears. In Unfair Advantage, I wanted a location with restaurants and wealth. West Palm Beach immediately sprung to mind. I visit WPB twice a year with friends. We walked downtown WPB often and enjoyed many local restaurants. So The Blind Monk, Buccan and the running path next to the Inter-coastal were natural settings. And they were easy to write as I’ve spent a lot of time in each of these spots.

Another (unfinished) story, Crystal Grove, takes place in my current neighborhood, but with my “old” house. I started Crystal Grove during quarantine; using my immediate surroundings to tell a story of a possessed grove of trees literally “popped” into my head. My decision to use an old house is less obvious; it may have been because my children were very young in that house. Crystal Grove featured two young children.

Another example is the library from my childhood hometown. I needed a place for a post-apocalyptic, charismatic leader to use as a base of operations. It jumped to mind. Same with a shoreline town; I pictured Bay Head NJ, close to where my parents once lived.

I wonder how other authors arrive at their settings. So much of the writing process, from characters to conflict to plot resolution, is a struggle. But setting presents itself quickly.

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