Your novel setting or story location is important on so many levels. The first obvious thing to note is that novels are made of many scenes, settings and locations.
That said, there is generally a larger over-arching setting, whether that’s London, a cruise ship or an alien planet. My 5fingers series of books sprawls across many international locations: such as New York, Bolivia, Bali, Nepal, Scotland, China and Tanzania. But the main locations are Griffton, a seaside city based loosely on several UK ones, and the Mezzanine World, a fantasy land with its own bizarre landscape and internal logic.
With this in mind, here are some pointers to help you develop your own story locations.
1. Try to write from what you know. I have been fortunate to travel a lot as a journalist and also personally, and try to write about locations I have spent time in, as it makes them more credible. If I haven’t been there, I research them deeply. I advise you to do the same. So, choose a setting you can write a lot about because you know it intimately.
2. Choose locations that add to your story. Within my stories, I carefully select scenes that will help enhance the story’s atmosphere or mood, plot, conflict, movement, character development and so on. So, you’ll find a hospital at night, a windowless library basement, a corporate office, a set of echoing caves, and so on.
3. Have fun with your locations. Enjoy researching and visiting your locations. Think of your favourite places and explore new ways to describe them. Try making them either complementary to the atmosphere (a scary graveyard; a romantic beach) or contradictory (a funny morgue; a frightening playground!)
Go forth and create great settings - you can do it! JRx
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Joshua Raven, novelist. Read about my writing and my life here. And have you discovered 5fingers yet?