When it comes to reading and writing, I need to see the characters, the setting, and the action. I want to readers feel like they're part of the story rather than watching it from the outside.
Strong visuals play an important role in achieving this type of involvement. Here are some of the ways I design novel settings:
1. Visit botanical gardens - Yes, folks, I smell the roses, and take in their colors, shapes, and how they blend with other flowers. This gives me a general sense of how gardeners create pleasing vignettes, including water features, birdbaths, etc. Rather than take notes, I prefer photos to refresh my memory.
2. Site Visits - My novel, The Moses Conspiracy, starts off in Washington, D.C., but most of the action takes place in Bird-in-Hand, PA. I chose those two settings for several reasons.
A. I've been to both places more than once.
B. Bird-in-Hand, PA is a popular tourist destination. As such, they would experience
more freedom than non-tourist zones in 2025.
C. I was able to show interaction between non-Amish and Amish characters.
3. Photography Websites - I soak up photos on http://www.sxc.hu and http://123rf.com. A simple picture can not only help with my setting, but also trigger ideas for an action scene.
4. Social Media - I'm new to Pinterest, but already I'm collecting ideas for settings and clothing styles.
Writers: How do you think outside the box when it comes to setting?
Readers: What kind of settings do you like in books? Historical? Contemporary? Please share.
Photo Credit: iammi-z