Location, Location, Location!

In The Lyall Pack Series, I didn’t reveal a city or a state the characters’ story took place. In a way, this gave the readers the freedom to imagine the story to be held wherever they wanted. Calling for the readers to place the characters in any location worked, but it would have been nice to explain a location so the readers could see clearly what I was seeing. Luckily, no one complained. But that’s not the point. The point is I should have made the location clear for my readers.

Location is a factor to help draw up the images in any reader’s mind. As long as I share where the location is then I should be able to create the image I want to show. Mentioning it is December in Ohio would help my readers picture a city covered in white from a heavy snow storm. If I go further into detail and share the story is featured in the country then maybe the reader can imagine a home on a farm. They see a barn hidden away from the storm or the ice covering the fields the farmer couldn’t work on in the cold months. If I leave out those little details from the story then the image in a reader’s mind is a little lose. While I’m writing my novel I’m picturing an Ohio farm in December but my reader could be picturing a farm in Kansas. I don’t know much about Kansas, but I imagine their winter weather in December is a bit different than the weather in Ohio. This example is as if I were to write using my home state as the setting. I’m familiar with Ohio since it’s my home state so it worked. But keeping my tales to one state really limits my mind.

I could stretch farther and use some of the other areas I’ve lived in for my novels. Of course, it still limits my stories. I would only have Ohio, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. (My husband’s home was in PA). This plan would work without many problems, but I believe an author should do their best to be able to write a story’s setting in any state.

Let’s say I’m an author who refuses to write a story in any other state than where I have lived. In fact, I want to write a story with a setting of the state I’m living in so it’s fresh in my mind. I start writing a new novel about a young man growing up in Nashville. I have been here for a few years now so I have a basic understanding of how the general population acts. I mean a very basic understanding. My knowledge of a young gentleman’s life in Nashville isn’t perfect, but it is groomed to the point I would feel comfortable making up some tale about a Nashville man. I would start writing and most likely hit a couple of bumps from time to time. Those bumps could hold off the novel from being completed for months or even years. That’s not a problem because I am in no hurry to finish writing my story and I don’t have set requirements from anyone to get my novels out by a certain date. I am my own boss! 

Now, in this example, It’s been a few months since I started my new novel and I have about a third of the book written. I’m excited because my husband was hired on to teach at a college in Texas. Okay, Texas sounds like it could be fun and I can’t wait to go! The only problem would be the fact that I have a story already started featuring the young man from Nashville. It might not seem like a big issue, but it really could become a problem. We move from Nashville to Texas and begin adapting to the Texas way of life. It wouldn’t happen very quickly, but ever so slowly I would begin forgetting bits and pieces of the way Nashville was. I would have a few pictures and some memories, but it woudln’t be the same as living there. That’s the hard part about writing a novel and only using the area I am living in. If I expect I’ll always be able to write about an area simply because I lived there I will be proven a fool. I should write down facts about the city/state my novel will carry because I might forget details. I might not remember how busy the main strip in Nashville gets on the weekend nights compared to the week night after living in Texas for a few months. Humans are naturally forgetful about some things.

All the personality research I have done to create the characters isn’t the only research I would need to have written down for my book. I need to know how their city plays into their every day life. Do they live in a busy city with constant city traffic or are they living in the country with hardly anyone living on their street? Different locations are also playing factors into how a person acts. These factors should be considered when I create a character. Building pieces of a character’s life based on a city I spent time living in is the easiest. But wouldn’t it be fun to learn about the life of a person in a different area? I can’t wait to figure out the location for my next novel!

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