Writing Tips: Setting: Picking a Location

23 May

Before I begin today’s post topic, I have two things to address: 

First: Special thanks to Nicole Lee at “Ennlee’s Reading Corner” for reviewing Minutes Before Sunset:  “…The book alternates between the point of view of each of the main characters without a set pattern, and Ms. Thompson should be commended for her ability to create two characters that are similar enough to keep these sections from being disjointed, but different enough that the reader can tell in an instant who is speaking…”

Click here to read the rest.

As of now, Minutes Before Sunset is rated 4.5 stars on Amazon, 4 stars on Barnes & Noble, and 4.7 stars on Goodreads. Thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed! An author always appreciates the dedicated and honest support. 

This picture means a lot to me. These are two great friends of mine that I met at the University of Kansas, William and Brooke Jones, and you might notice what William is holding: my first novel, November Snow. Support (and friendship) like this is priceless.

This picture means a lot to me. These are two great friends of mine that I met at the University of Kansas, William and Brooke Jones, and you might notice what William is holding: my first novel, November Snow. Support (and friendship) like this is priceless.

Second: As many of you know, I held another contest where the winners receive a free account at Happify, a website dedicated to bringing happiness to social media within a great community of encouraging peers. The winners are:

whiteravensoars: Random Acts of Writing (invitation sent)

Ky Grabowski: Welcome to the inner workings of my mind (invitation sent)

willowysp: Freefall (I need an email)

Nicole Lee: Ennlee’s Reading Corner (invitation sent)

Amber Skye Forbes: Writing Words with the Tips of my Toes (invitation sent)

Based on status, you’ll receive a confirmation. (If you don’t fell comfortable sharing your email on my comments, please send an email to ShannonAThompson@aol.com identifying yourself, so I can send the invite) Follow me here, so I can find you, and I’ll  be sure to follow back!

Now, onto today’s post:

I wanted to discuss “setting” in a novel, but I specifically wanted to share websites where you can find more information on your place (or perhaps browse the world for inspiration, even if your setting is in another world entirely.)

I think your background is a great place to start. Everyone has heard “write what you know,” and there is truth in it. Placing your novel in a place your extremely familiar with is the easiest route (not necessarily the right route), and this can make descriptions easier. For instance, Minutes Before Sunset takes place in Hayworth, Kansas. This is not a real town. It’s actually a play on Hays and Ellsworth, both towns in Kansas. I haven’t lived in these locations, but I have been to them, and I currently live in Kansas, so I am very familiar with the culture, layout, and how the weather works. Plus, I wanted an ironic name. Since the novel is about a dark fate, it only seemed appropriate (and humorous) to have a name that suggested the town was worthy.

In regards to familiarity, another thing to think about is your basic settings. By this, I am referencing your rooms. I’ve discussed interior maps before, and every house in Minutes Before Sunset is based off of a real house I’ve lived in (aside from Eric’s. That’s my dream home.) And the maps are available on the Minutes Before Sunset extra’s page.

Back to location:

If you’re looking for a place you’re not entirely familiar with, I wanted to give a great website out there for beginning, especially if you’re not positive on what you’re looking for.

Earth Album Alpha: This is a slick flicker collection of photos, virtually capable in regards to clicking anywhere on the map just to see an arrangement of pictures from the specific country. This can be very broad, but it can also help narrow down what you’re looking for. As an example, the picture below is of Serbia. (I clicked randomly.) You’ll see a collection of tiny pictures at the top, which you can enlarge, that will show the region. In particular, this country has a lot of beautiful fields, so you may not be interested in Serbia, but you might realize you want an open space, and you can go from there.

Earth Album Alpha

Earth Album Alpha

Do you like these tips? Join my Facebook page for more!

Do you like these tips? Join my Facebook page for more!

Weather Base: This website helps summarize what happens in regards to weather in the average year based on the location you choose. This is actually a traveling website, meant for tourists to figure out ideal weather to travel in, but you can learn whatever you want all over the world. I really recommend checking these things, because fallacies can happen in location, if you’re not familiar with how citizens live beneath the weather clouds. A good example of this is the famous young-adult novel, Twilight. Although Meyer set it in a rain-prone state, the amount of rain she used was very unrealistic to the location. In an interview, she even admitted that she visited for weeks without rain and was quite disappointed with her lack of research. However, she was delighted to bring tourism to the city that wasn’t known before. So there are pros and cons to everything.

American Culture: If you want to stay in the states, this blog is full of information about history, culture, language, education, and more. It even includes family arrangements, death rituals, and relationships to other countries where these things may have taken place originally. This won’t only help your setting; it can help your characters round out as they’ll have a family background stabilized within reality. For instance, it may remind you of the variation in language used across certain areas. An exact quote: “Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog due to immigration from the countries where those languages are spoken, and to a certain extent French, primarily in far north New England, due to the Acadian-Canadian influence, and in Louisiana (Cajun).”

My hopes is that sites like this will help the initial process of choosing a location you (as much as your readers) feel connected to as much as your characters will be grounded in it. 

If you have any other sites, comment below! And, as usual, if you have a topic you want to hear about, let me know, and I’ll credit your blog for asking the question on that post.

I hope everyone is having a great time! (Paperback news is coming soon!)

Goodreads Quote of the day“I was falling in love with her, and she was falling in love with me. It was fated, decided before any of us were born, and I hated it as much as I loved it. I could barely stand it.” (Eric, Minutes Before Sunset)

~SAT

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14 Responses to “Writing Tips: Setting: Picking a Location”

  1. Tuan Ho May 23, 2013 at 4:16 am #

    And here I am, just about to set my novel in a scorching hot area of Antarctica.

    Well, it turns out Antarctica is a pretty cold place. Who knew hey? lol :)

    In all seriousness, those websites are really useful. I had never thought about researching something as mundane as weather, but I guess it is quite important. :)

    • Shannon Thompson May 23, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

      LOL o0o Tuan. I always look forward to your humorous comments. I know weather can seem tedious, but I have been taken out of books before when reading and the weather (or like plants) aren’t natural to that area.
      ~SAT

  2. theparasiteguy May 23, 2013 at 4:39 am #

    I must say that I really like the look of Earth Album Alpha. I reckon it’ll be an excellent place to get some inspiration.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Shannon Thompson May 23, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

      Good to hear! Hope you have inspirational fun with it.
      ~SAT

  3. Charles Yallowitz May 23, 2013 at 7:13 am #

    That weather base website is really cool. Thanks.

  4. L. Marie May 23, 2013 at 8:19 am #

    Thank you for that weather site! This is great information!

  5. thaibebop May 23, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    I just want to take a second to say “Rockchalk Jayhawk”! Nice post, by the way.

    • Shannon Thompson May 23, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

      Rockchalk Jayhawk :] It feels so good to hear (read) that over the summer!
      ~SAT

  6. cynt5525 May 23, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    Thank You for following me !!! *Cynthia

  7. Nocturnally Mine May 24, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Great points. I’ve always struggled with writing about locations other than home. I’ve tried researching and I always seem to come back home, something to challenge myself with!

  8. chitrader May 29, 2013 at 12:40 am #

    These are the sorts of blog posts I find most useful: a fellow writer coming across websites she has found helpful in her writing and sharing them with others in the writing community. Thanks for sharing, Shannon. :-) Excellent post. I look forward to exploring all three new sites.

    Chris

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Website Wonders | Shannon A Thompson - July 30, 2013

    […] forget that it can be fun. (That’s why I try to share websites like the websites on my post Writing Tips: Setting: Picking a Location.) I think 7 is great, because children can teach everyone a lot. Sometimes, as adults, we think too […]

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