Let the Setting Be Your Guide

Filed in Author Inspirations by on July 11, 2014 0 Comments

Let the setting be your guideYou can just picture it: the white, sandy beaches, the colorful sunset, the cool water flowing over your toes, the igloo glistening in the sun…. wait, when did an igloo come into your tropical beach scene?

Just an example of how important it is when writing a manuscript set in a real-life location to be as accurate as possible, especially for a setting readers will be able to recognize.

As the sentiment says, readers enjoy being transported to another world through the pages of a book. However, if a book has obvious inconsistencies in its description of the setting, readers will feel disconnected in their mental envisioning of the setting and may become dissuaded from reading.

So, if you are taking steps to bring your setting to reality for your readers, follow some key advice to avoid the setting pitfalls.

First, and most importantly, research the location of your book, whether it is a small town in the Midwest or New York City. Learn everything you can about the landscape, culture and lifestyle of this spot and its occupants. You won’t know the backgrounds of your readers, but those who have been to your location will know whether you did the research or are just wingin’ it.

Besides the physical features of your setting location, consider also adding weather characteristics in the season your story is taking place. You can even broaden it more for the delight of readers by including famous food/drink staples of your setting and maybe include a special event in your story, such as the Sundance Film Festival if set in Utah or Bike Week if set in Daytona Beach.

Use this location platform as a way to educate your readers on the hidden jewels of the setting, even if it is their own hometown. Appropriately position any interesting facts or history into the manuscript that wouldn’t interfere with plot development (unless that is your intention), but instead add to the flow of the story.

Now that your readers are well versed in your chosen location, be sure to make the transition in setting as obvious to your readers as possible. To avoid a mishap like the example above, include how the character traveled from one location to the next, such as plane, train or automobile (unless this is science fiction and he/she teleported).

The location in a manuscript can create a free trip for readers to a place they have always wanted to go or to encourage them to appreciate more of their own stomping grounds. Done with the least amount of confusion, it could be one of the most worthwhile assets of your manuscript.


About the Author ()

Blair Townley joined the Xulon Press family as a Staff Editor in May 2013, helping first-time authors prepare their treasured manuscripts for publication. Prior to Xulon Press, she previously worked as a staff writer/editor for several Central Florida-based magazines over the past decade. What Blair enjoys most about writing and editing is getting to help others share their stories, helping others see themselves as the unique individuals God created them to be.

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