Monday, April 29, 2013

Design a Novel Setting

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 and 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


Loree Huebner said...

I'm inspired by the outdoors and nature - sunsets, the breeze, flowers, trees, woods, lakes...and so on.

I love historical settings. I imagine the world that lived before me.

Nancy said...

I love settings in old houses. Gardens are fun, too. I like settings that are somewhat part of the plot. Museums are interesting.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Great ideas, Susan!

Melanie N. Brasher said...

I find inspiration in nature!

Great tips!

Marja Verschoor-Meijers said...

Great picture... bet that's the Keukenhof tulips in Holland :)
I get inspired everywhere, but mostly outside!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Loree - Spring is my favorite season, so I'm soaking up the visuals. In my second book, I mention the cherry blossom trees in D.C.

Hi Nancy - Ooo, old houses. You can do so much with that idea!

Hi Jennifer - Thanks.

Hi Melanie - What better way to spark creativity than to learn from the Creator?

Hi Marja - Hmm, I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was taken in Holland.

Susan :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan .. I don't write novels - but I'm fortunate in being able to visualise aspects and we have such an amazing history here - lots to see and I've visited not a huge range, but enough to give me some ideas.

Great thoughts here .. cheers Hilary

Susan said...

Hi Susan...Loved your suggestions and follow most of them.

I usually stick to settings I'm familiar with. However, I don't write fiction, usually.

Take care, Susan. Nice to see you visited and commented, too. Thanks! Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Hilary - I always see the action in my head as I'm writing.

Hi Susan - I use fiction techniques in my non-fiction writing all the time. Of course, I'm more focused on fiction right now with the books being published. :)


Stephen Tremp said...

I receive so much inspiration from being outdoors. Its like a breath of fresh air. Because it is. Okay, I'm tired. Its late and that's the bet I can do.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Stephen -

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Being outdoors also has a way of revitalizing me. I often think about what the Garden of Eden was like. If our world is so beautiful in its fallen state, it must have been breathtaking in its purity.

Susan :)