Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Some Thoughts on Setting

Several months ago I began writing with a group of published authors on a blog we named Novel Concepts. The idea was that a group of eight of us would work together to write a series of short stories that we would publish online every week as a blog.  The novel concept was that we would end each weekly story with a choice for the reader and let them choose what the next part of the story will be.

So far the stories have been great fun.  The first one was a reunion among friends along the Gulf coast who faced down old romances, confronted lingering problems and even found new romance. Our last story was the fun tale of a best selling romance writer who dies and begins haunting the last person she ran into at a romance conference - a fan who happens to be a male romance writer.

Now we are off and running again, starting our newest story with a young woman who meets a sexy hunk on a tubing adventure down a mountain in Washington state.  I am looking forward to writing my part next week.  I get the opportunity to pick up on a chance meeting and voters have already decided how the next installment begins. The characters are intriguing and sound like fun to write so I am excited about taking them farther along in the relationship. Again, the readers get to decide where the story goes next.

But mostly I am pleased that I get the opportunity to write about one of my favorite settings, the Northwest.  Home to my first and second romantic suspense novels, Deadly Messages and Shadows from the Past, I am always ready and happy to set a story there.

Perhaps that is also why I am also working on this year's NaNoWriMo project with a setting in the Northwest, along the Washington coast where I spent several days last month. Needles to say, I immediately fell in love again with that area. On the Sunday when we arrived I was able to sit outside our cabin and enjoy a long afternoon of sunlight and ocean air.

But the next day, the storms moved in and what writer can resist a log cabin on a cold windy day when the rain is pouring down outside and the logs are burning in the stove, warming up the cabin?

With no internet to distract, no television available, what else can you do but write? And that was exactly what I did -- coming up with an idea for a story about a woman trying to escape her violent ex-boyfriend only to be confronted with a nosy ghost and a sexy new man who is trying to escape his own personal demons.

Setting can be every bit as important to a writer and the story as characters and plot, I've decided. To bring the reader into the location can be every bit as important as making the characters come alive and getting the reader invested in the plot. I almost have to feel my setting when I write, which is probably why I usually stick to locations I know or have at least visited.

And that is really one of the reasons why I am looking forward to that story on Novel Concepts next week. We ran into snow at the base of Mt Rainier as we drove south through the Cascades and I am certain it will help me as I describe the special feel of the Northwest and take the readers along with me too.  Again, the first installment is up, and I'll be moving the story along next monday at

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