Setting the Stage
| by Winter Lawrence |
When an idea for a story pops into my head, it’s usually takes place in New York State. Why is that, you ask? Well, I think it’s because I’m from there, so New York City is my default setting—it’s home, and so when an idea is born, it always seems to start where I did. Of course, not all of my stories can take place in the Bronx, so when I need a more rural, small-town setting, I usually settle for somewhere that’s still close to home, like Upstate New York.
Here’s the thing—I could write every one of my stories in real New York locations, or I could fictionalize areas based on it, but I’ve chosen not to (though, for one particular author, ahem, His Majesty Stephen King, writing stories based entirely in Maine worked out for him—like really!). So while I toyed around with the notion of writing only New York based stories or only creating fictional New York towns, when I started storyboarding, it was as if my stories picked their own locations. I know, that sounds crazy! But when the idea of my upcoming Gamer Series was born, I knew it had to take place in the small town of Castle Rock, Colorado.
Why’s that, you ask?
Well, for the Gamer Series, I needed a military base, and not just any base would do. I needed Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station—otherwise known as NORAD. See, the Gamer Series is about a top-secret government simulator and so I wanted to make the book as realistic as possible, so NORAD had to make the final cut, or some fictional version of it did, anyway. In the end, I chose to use the real thing which meant I needed to set the main stage of Eve 2.0 close enough to the base so events could realistically take place there, all while the main part of the storyline took place in a “normal” middle-class Suburban environment. Castle Rock seemed like the perfect place, especially because I’ve been there (and I LOVE it!).
Personally, I think it’s important for authors to be familiar with the locations they write about. That doesn’t mean that a person has to physically visit the location to include it as a setting, but research is key, and with all the amazing technology available to us today, writers can virtually visit just about anywhere in the world! So my best advice for writers who want to capture the essence of a location is to go for a visit! If that isn’t possible, then hop online and do some virtual traveling, and most importantly, dive into research mode on all things related to that culture. Make sure you’re walking the proverbial walk and talking the proverbial talk. In New York, people grab a slice of pizza before hopping into a Gypsy cab, and in the U.K., chips are French fries, crisps are potato chips, and people go to uni, not college. It’s all about capturing the local vernacular and setting the stage as precisely as you can. Trust me; it’ll make a difference in your writing and your readers will appreciate it, so go and take a trip—whether in person or virtually—and become immersed in the culture!
Until next time, friend, be well and happy travels!