These days it is difficult to travel or to go anywhere, and that only brings in the wanderlust even more than normal. Having already given up one trip to the California coast this year, I am longing again to visit some of my favorite places. Unfortunately, that can’t happen so I am taking my characters in my books there instead.
In the past I have done blogs on my southern Colorado roots, where I am setting my current stories, but recently I have also been going through some of my old manuscripts that I want to finish. One is set in beautiful Vancouver, B.C. My last trip there was last year, and while I don’t’ know when I’ll be going again, it will give me great joy to pick up one of my old manuscripts set there and start working on a story to take me back to visit, even if it is only in my mind.
Settings can be critical to any story. Another that I am working on is set in a remote section of the Northwest where there are limited routes to travel. That can be a great idea for a getaway or if you want to hide from someone, but if an old boyfriend is stalking the heroine, she’ll have a tough time trying to elude him once he learns her whereabouts. I’m looking forward to tossing in a ghost to help her escape!
That brings me to the point of this. Location can be every bit as important as characters in developing your story, so don’t shirk on the details and use it just as you might use a villain or a hero. A snowstorm can strand travelers, but it can also provide some undivided time where two lovers can work out the obstacles that have been keeping them apart.
To me, bringing in the setting and making the reader feel the location is critical to making any story work. But how can you get that into your work if you haven’t been to a location? There are always pictures you can find online or in magazines. Find ones that you can relate to as you write your story and then use them to transport your writing brain to that location.
Now you don’t have to visit all the locations you want to write about, but when you are in a location, writing down the various senses associated with it can be useful as you call them up later. Wherever I travel, I do that. A writer can be working, even when on vacation.
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