Where should my story take place?
by Lynn Parent
(Gatineau, Quebec Canada)
Question: I am trying to writing my first novel. But the problem is I don't know what write to start me off.
I am have been trying to find books that can help me.
I am also trying to figure out where my story should take place.
There's a level where setting doesn't matter too much. For instance, the same basic story structure might used for a romance that takes place in ancient Rome or on the planet Venus, or in 21st century Gatineau.
If setting is not wildly important, you might start by considering the types of setting you usually like to read about. I'm sure you already have some idea what whether you like stories set in contemporary, historical, or fantasy places.
You might also start with a setting you know well, such as a city you have lived in. You can modify it somewhat, making it a fictitious city to suit your story.
Many great books have been written by taking an old story idea or structure and putting it into a new setting.
There's also a level on which setting matters immensely because the social malaise affects the characters and their relationships. Some settings lend themselves to certain themes (for example, individualism and the Old West, technology and the future, social justice and the industrial revolution).
You might consider what types of thematic issues you would like to explore and what types of settings would lend themselves to your purpose.
Bear in mind that you don't have to go for the obvious choices and that sometimes making an unexpected choice can pay off. War, for example, can take place on the tennis court or at the church fundraiser just as easily as on the battlefield.
Some writers start with an idea for a character and then create the world around him where his story can be told. Others will start with a setting and then imagine a character thrust into that world. The choice is yours.
Either way, it helps to choose a setting that you find fascinating, so you can describe it in a way the reader finds fascinating as well.
Best of luck.