Every book has one. Some are fictional. Some are real. But all are essential to the story and can help bring the story alive.
So how do authors choose settings? Well, I asked a few friends and I’ll also tell you how I chose the setting of the manuscript I’m currently writing. So let’s get started with how authors choose “The Setting.” *Giveaway info will be at the bottom of the post.
Award-winning author, Sarah Monzon says:
So for the last few years I’ve been writing stories in the locations that we’ve been stationed in. Booknerds and Boyfriends I wrote while stationed on the Olympic Peninsula of WA, and Sewing in SoCal series I set in Southern California while we’ve been stationed here at Camp Pendleton.
If you haven’t read either series, be sure to look them up on her website.
USA Today Bestselling author, Jaycee Weaver says:
Choosing a setting is a no-brainer for me most of the time. I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, so I set most of my books here because it’s underrepresented in fiction. As for specifics like which part of town they live in or what places they go on dates or hang out in, I try to mix it up while highlighting some of my favorite places in town. It’s a subversive tourism effort, honestly. Lol!
Jaycee Weaver has so many good books to choose from that are set in Albuquerque. You can find more information at her website.
But wait! I have quotes from more author friends.
Mikal Dawn, author of Count Me In says:
I dream up an idea–usually it’s just a one-line hook it glimmer of something–then I play with it and see where it lands setting-wise. The last story I wrote (The Fix Up in The 80s Rom-Com Club collection) didn’t reveal its setting until I was one or two chapters in! I had to go back and fill it back in. Other times, however, I LOVE using the setting as a character and dream up a plot that will work around the setting. My first book could only have taken place in the Pacific Northwest.
Teresa Tysinger, author of the Laurel Cove series says:
I decide on settings based on places I love (Burnsville, NC that inspired my Laurel Cove series). Places that bring me peace, comfort, or are beautiful. Sometimes a setting serves a purpose in the story, like Southport, NC worked for Gwen and the Three Dates in OUAS because Gwen was obsessed with romance movies like the ones filmed there.
And I can attest that her series definitely brings peace, comfort, and celebrates the beauty of life. Check out her website for more info.
As for me. I have a few different ways I like to go about choosing a setting. You see, I like to travel. However, my pocketbook doesn’t always support my dreams. So I choose a different location for each standalone/series location in attempts to explore the world around me, if only through research. In my Maple Run series, I was inspired by an old barn I saw while driving through Loudoun County, Virginia. It only made sense that I create my fictional town of Maple Run to be set there.
When I wrote my Freedom Lake series, it was because I found an article telling how African Americans use to travel to Black only vacation spots. After looking at a list of those historical places, I settled on Indiana and create the fictional town of Freedom Lake.
Other times, I choose to use a real location. My Faith & Fortune series was set in New York City. For that, I used a different approach. I picked four cities I thought were the very definition of cities and could be a spot where famous people resided and asked for my Facebook followers to vote on. They choose NYC and that’s where I set the series.
I also started a series for a couple of Love Inspired books I’m writing. I knew what the characters would be doing and knew I wanted a small-town location. So I perused the map of the U.S. and kind of eenie minie moed it. :) I landed in Arkansas and the first book in that collection, Her Christmas Redemption, will be set there.
As for my current work-in-progress, it’s about a Hollywood actor and the hairdresser he employs for his mother. It only made sense to set the book in Los Angeles where I can explore the glitz and glam of the area. I’ve already found a few people to pick their brains about living in that area. I’m super excited to finish writing this book.
For a chance to enter a giveaway for my next Love Inspired book, An Unlikely Alliance, releasing June 28th, tell me what makes a place a favorite setting for you. Comment by April 11th 11:59pm EDT, and I’ll choose a random winner on April 12th. Please note this is a print copy and for US mailing address entrants only. (Sorry international friends.)