14 April 2013


I think it’s important to give a good deal of thought to the main setting for your book, particularly if you’re writing a series.  After all, depending on how many books you plan on writing in that series, you want to feel comfortable with it.  Not only because you’re placing your beloved characters in that setting, but you yourself will be spending a lot of time there both mentally and perhaps physically.

Here are some other reasons to consider your setting before you choose one.

  • Does this setting provide you with everything you need in the context of your story?
  • Is the setting familiar to you?  It’s always an advantage if it is when you start to write.
  • If you don’t live near your main setting, are you able to travel there to do research? 
  •  Ask yourself if you might tire of the setting. 
  •  Imagine you are writing the ninth book in a series and you’re having to describe the same setting in a fresh way.

I chose Sydney, Australia, for the setting of my Fitzjohn Mystery Series.  I don’t live in Sydney, but I do spend quite a bit of time there.  It’s easy for me to get to if or when I need to do research.  And it’s also large enough to provide different options as far as other settings for my characters to inhabit from time to time.

Before I start writing a story, I like to visit the places my characters will inhabit so that I can visualise them in that space.  I did this recently with my recent release, Once Upon A Lie, by visiting Rushcutters Bay on Sydney Harbour.  I wanted to see the place where “the murder” takes place as well as get a feel for the whole area.

I also took the train journey that I’d planned for my character, Esme Timmons.  She travels from her home in Waverton to Kings Cross on a Saturday morning in the middle of summer, so I decided to do this journey myself on a Saturday morning and in summer.  A bit over the top, you think?  I don’t think so.

It’s always easier to write about what you know, of course.  There’s a little less research that needs to be done.  I think it would be a real challenge to write a story set in a place that is unfamiliar and that you had not, at least, visited.  For example, many of Agatha Christie’s novels are set in the Middle East with train trips on the Orient Express, but if you look into Ms Christies life story, you will find that she spent many years in these places while helping her husband, Max Mallowan, with his archaeological pursuits.  Of course, there is one way of looking at an unfamiliar setting.  It gives you the excuse to holiday there!

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  1. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect! Hope to see more from you :D

    1. Thanks for joining my blog, Meryl. It's great to connect through the WLC. Do you have a blog?

  2. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!