Have you ever thought about the power of place, of setting, in writing your novel?
The setting in most novels is nonspecific. Meaning that, while setting itself is important, the specificity of the setting is oftentimes not. The high school romance between Bella and Edward in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight could have begun in any modern high school cafeteria. Dan Millman’s Visionary Fiction novel, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, could have been set in any gas station, and in any university town, and still retain the thrust of the story.
Harper Lee, author of the classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, said in a 1961 interview, “People will be people anywhere you put them.” She set her story in a nonspecific, generic Southern town she named Maycomb. The story could have taken place anywhere in the South during the early 1930’s. But what was important, and more specific, was that it was indeed set in the South. And the town of Maycomb represented a conglomeration of the Southern culture, tradition, and societal influences that shaped her story and her characters’ experiences.
Could James Hilton’s classic, Lost Horizon, be set anywhere other than Shangri-La, the earthly paradise hidden in the Himalayan Mountains? Or in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland – Alice could have fallen down a mining pit, a well hole, or her rabbit hole, but what was important is that the hole led her down into the magical realm of Wonderland. And this magical setting colored how the story unfolded.
Peter Pan’s adventures would not have been the same if they were not experienced specifically in Neverland. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code needed to take place within the religious structures found in Italy. It couldn’t have happened anywhere else.
These latter examples illustrate how there are also many novels … Continue reading