Sunday, October 4, 2009

Setting the Story

I missed you all over the weekend. I need to catch up on a lot of blogs this week!

We spent the long weekend in Leavenworth, Washington and while we were there I started thinking a lot about settings.

See, Leavenworth is a Bavarian village nestled in the mountains of central Washington. Its downtown is full of little German shops and restaurants and minutes away are miles of apple orchards and untouched forest. It is a gorgeous and diverse setting and the whole time we were there I kept thinking, "I should totally write a story set in Leavenworth." Unfortunately I haven't thought of one-- yet.

So check it out. (Sorry, my cheap digital camera and lack of photography skills don't really do it justice).


















Yes, those are my kid's (and husband's) backsides. Aren't they cute?








Okay, so what I'm wondering is this: do you ever write stories BASED on the setting? I've never tried it before. For me the plot always comes first and the characters and setting fall into place later, but I know it can be done.

If you haven't ever tried to write a story starting with a setting, have you considered it? Is there any place you'd love to write about?

18 comments:

Patti said...

In my book I've used where my ancestors from Iceland lived. I research the history of the island and used a lot of that in my book.

Lazy Writer said...

My characters usually come first, then plot, and then the setting. But the setting is always some place I'm familiar with. Great pictures, by the way.

Heather Sunseri said...

I just finished a first draft of my current MS. My setting came before anything else. The setting is a place I traveled to last summer, and I decided soon after that I would write a book set there.

MattDel said...

I plan to eventually write a book set in Salem, Mass. in the latter part of the 1800s, but usually the plot and characters come first for me as well. That said, I also came with an idea for an alternate U.S. where the U.S.A, C.S.A., and California Republic share the continent. Oh, and for a steampunk story set in late 1800s Germany.

So I don't really know if I can definitely say I always come with characters/plots first.

Tabitha Bird said...

Alaska... for some reason I want to set a murder novel in Alaska... I don't know ... I might just be tired :)

Marybeth Poppins said...

Never tried that before, but definitely an interesting idea!

Anita Saxena said...

I think the setting and the plot evolved simultaneously for me. Kind of playing off each other.

MeganRebekah said...

I really, really, really want to write a book set in Belize. My own memories and experiences there are so great, and there are so many unique locations to use, that it could be a great book. The problem is, I have no plot ready to insert into Belize. One day something fabulous will come to me, until then it hangs out on the back burner.

Linda Kage said...

Nope, I can't come up with a story from a setting... and I've tried. I live in an old miner's town and there's this barn where Al Capone used to stop and check his bootlegging business. This could make a GREAT story. Mobsters and mines. Can you just imagine how many people they could've 'taken care of' and hidden their bodies in the mines? But, nope, I can't think up any good characters to go with my story. It frustrates me.

Dawn VanderMeer said...

I've only been once, but Leavenworth is definitely a special place.

I haven't based a story on a setting yet--plot and/or characters have always hit me first. Fun question. :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oooh, how pretty! Glad you had a great trip. :)

No, I'm terrible about settings. In fact, it seems as if I like to keep my characters in a room with no windows. LOL! I REALLY need to work on settings. :)

Sherry Bobbins said...

Natalie, congrats on your blog!!! I had no idea you wanted to write! That's very exciting! I have been to Leavenworth, WA and I love this beautiful quaint little town! It's definately worth visiting :) we stopped on our way to Lake Chelan (also a dream place to visit!)

Beth said...

I visited Savannah, Georgia, with my family last year and fell in love with it so much that it is the setting for my first MS! It is the coolest city, so rich with history and culture. I tend to want to use places I've been and loved, so I have a feeling my next setting will be London, England :)

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I started a novel based on a time period/setting: the American frontier. I had no idea where I was heading with it, just that I had tremendous respect for the women who lived at this time. I did tons of reading, believing my story would show itself as I continued.

In a round-about way, it did. My novel-in-verse, May B., went on to win first place for a novel excerpt at a local writing conference and has gotten me some agent reads. It's possible to get to a story by starting at the setting.

Jessie Oliveros said...

Actually, there is a city close to my home that I love and I searched among my story ideas until I found one that would work. I am very much a fan of setting.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

i have! definitely. but i was so taken aback by your last picture...it looks just like a popular picture of the victorian village of Ferndale, CA, where i used to live! seriously...google it and see if you don't find a pic just like that!

anyway...I wanted to let you know about my blog address change. *sigh* If you're following me, my posts now won't show up in your feed, dashboard, sidebar, whatever. So please forgive me, but you'll have to change the address for my main writing blog, Where Romance Meets Therapy, to http://jeanniecampbell.blogspot.com. To do this, you have to "unfollow" me and follow me again. Sorry for the confusion!

Jeannie
The Character Therapist

Jody Hedlund said...

I haven't necessarily picked a setting based on what I've seen. What I suppose you could do when you figure out your plot and characters is use a setting your particularly fond of, or parts of that setting. I find myself doing that to some extent!

Marie Devers said...

Sorry I'm so late.

Yay setting! I think of setting as one of the characters in the story, even if it's a made up place--it's very important to what happens.

For the record, there will always be a person or two who say you didn't get "their" town right, but for the most part, people are absolutely thrilled when writers think so highly of their home.