Your idea for a story is selected, jelled, and ready, but where does it all happen? Using artistic imagination, it can be anywhere in the world, real or imaginary, somewhere you’ve visited or want to. If it’s home, you’re set. For other settings, more work is necessary. Research the area – the less familiar you are with a city, foreign region, or ocean beach resort, the need to investigate it increases. 

 Readers are known to criticize discrepancies in settings.  Accuracy is one way of eliminating criticism, the other is making up a setting. As the creator of the location, you have freedom unfettered.  Louise Penny in Still Life used the village of Three Pines, then again in subsequent books. If you’re writing a series keep in mind that what’s there stays there unless you change it. Because it’s fiction, combinations of real settings and envisioned ones work too. Knowing your readership helps determine if you’re writing augmented murder mystery fiction or fantasy. My Lieutenant James’ work is in New York (real) though I moved his residence to Winburg ( made-up) for The Numbered Cups Mystery. 

Setting includes many details; weather, proper street names, rivers, building structures, entertainment venues, visible landmarks, and often all sorts of descriptions.

If you don’t want a history book, limit interspersed description. Tidbits of historical information and fitting anecdotal stories enhance, obsessive details detract. 

When you feel good writing in the chosen setting keep it up. Readers will enjoy that too.

I’ve placed characters in Washington, D.C., Arizona, New York City, a college town in Ohio, New York City, and In Nashville. They seemed very comfortable there and I liked spending time there too. 

JB Clemmens

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