Monday, February 28, 2011

Location, location, location!

I'm currently reading the novel _Raven Black_ (by Ann Cleeves), which is set in the Shetland Islands (north part of Scotland). The setting really makes the story unique, and I'm enjoying all the foreignness of the landscape, dialogue, and customs (lots of Viking references). Also, now that I'm nearing the end, I'm realizing how much of the scenery and customs are linked to the plot and theme of the book.

It makes me think I'm not using setting enough in my WIP. My story isn't set anywhere that fascinating (southern-ish US), but I think I still need to add in more elements of location to make it feel real...after all, we're shaped by where we grow up and live, right? So should my characters be also.

What book(s) have you read where the setting really made the story something special? What about the location really connected with the tale itself?


William Kendall said...

I'd love to see that part of the United Kingdom down the line, the north reaches of Scotland really appeal to me.

I think in regards to making setting stand out in the text, Jeff Shaara's treatment of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania in his Civil War books seems to come to mind. He really makes the area feel like an additional character, coming alive in the midst of battle.

Some of Carla Neggers' recent books have taken place in Ireland, and she goes out of her way to make the places feel very much an organic part of the book.

In my current writings, setting is very much essential to my narrative. I'm setting it in Israel, so I'm always trying to incorporate place into the book as an organic aspect of the story.

Herr Sedore said...

I enjoyed the starkness of the North Dakota landscape in "Peace Like a River" by Leif Enger -- you could feel the way growing up in that unforgiving terrain affected the characters...