Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll

On Locations and Settings

I've been quiet here for the past five weeks, partly because the day-job writing has taken up far too much of my creative energy, and partly because I'm still stalled on my current project. There's not much I can do about the former for now, but I'm setting myself an ultimatum with regard to the latter. I'm going to keep pushing at it until mid-May, and then I'm going to work on something else for a while.

Why mid-May? That's when I'm off to a European capital on a conference related mainly to the day-job (although some aspects of the discussions can be related to other, currently less lucrative, work). While there, I'm hoping to have some time to explore, and ideally to find inspiration for an urban fantasy short story. The city in question isn't one commonly associated with genre fiction or English language fiction of any kind, which may be to my advantage.

I'm one of those people that can only really write about places I know: as far as the here and now goes anyway. Writing other worlds even, I find that I'm writing familiar settings, tweaked just enough to become somewhere only recognisable to me as where it once was. Fortunately I've travelled a lot, and have a good memory that is easily boosted by pictures and descriptions.

Having fallen for a place, and decided I want to write a story set there, I often go back several times to learn as much as I can about its character and inhabitants. Hopefully this can be conveyed to readers as a series of minor details that build up a picture as vivid as my memories, without overwhelming the story taking place over the setting.

Other people seem able to research and then write about places without ever going there, and still build as realistic a setting.

How about you? Can you write about places you've never visited, or do you prefer familiar settings? If you realise that you know the setting for a story better than the author does, are you thrown out of the story? What makes for a good setting?
Tags: on writing
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