The Importance of Setting

Though I've written about the importance of setting before, I just finished reading books for a contest and the ones that really stood out were those where the author had done such a great job of describing the setting that you really felt you were following along with the characters as they went here and there. It didn't matter whether the place was real or fictional, the sights, sounds, and smells of each location really added to the plot and the enjoyment of the book.

One of the artists of telling what the places in his books are like is James Lee Burke. What is so interesting about his ability is that he is almost poetic with his place descriptions while the main story is always gritty and often violent.

A lesser known author, though she won't be much longer, is Holli Castillo who writes about New Orleans. While reading her also quite gritty mysteries, you will feel like  you've made a visit to the real New Orleans, not just the places where the tourists go.

Whether you are writing about a real place or one that you've made up, be sure that you are showing the readers what it's like, where in the country (or out of it) the story is taking place, what the neighborhoods are like, describe the houses in those neighborhoods,what kind of people live there, what the weather is like, what kind of smells permeate a place, what people eat, etc.

If you're going to write about a place that you're visiting or researching, take photos, jot notes about things you don't want to forget, things that will add layers to your story.



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