By Judith Keim
Real estate agents have a mantra – Location, location, location! And they’re right. Location can mean the difference between a successful choice or one that doesn’t quite work out the way you’d thought.
In writing, a book’s location is really it’s setting. And that setting can change from chapter to chapter, sometimes scene to scene. Setting done well becomes a character in your story. Many writers do a wonderful job of including fabulous descriptions in their books, making their settings come alive and inviting readers to spend time there. Even what some might consider ordinary places come alive with good description that includes use of the five senses.
In BREAKFAST AT THE BEACH HOUSE HOTEL the setting of a property on the beach encourages all kinds of description:
Stepping onto the balcony, I gazed down at the pool below. The waterfall at one end sent glistening ripples dancing across the pool’s surface. The sound of the tumbling water was almost drowned out by the lapping of the Gulf on the broad, white beach beyond the house. Peace, such as I hadn’t known for a long time, wrapped around me.
It doesn’t have to be a glamourous setting. In THE TALKING TREE, setting is used to show her pain:
My mother’s death brought me back to upstate Barnham, New York on this crisp April morning. Chills rolled across my shoulders in paralyzing waves as I stared at the peeling paint and darkened windows of my childhood home. Cruelty and rejection had formed its core. I clutched my hands, drew a deep breath, and told myself this place no longer mattered, but I knew better. Until I could work through past issues, I’d always be bound in some horrible way to this house and the people who’d caused such pain.
In FAT FRIDAYS, a suburban Georgia neighborhood looks something like this:
She stood a moment, admiring her surroundings, so full of promise. Plantings of various sizes and shapes filled the landscaped spaces between the large houses and served as a playground for the birds flitting among the budding branches. The trees would soon leaf out in pale green glory. Bradford Pear trees were about to blossom, and then their white flowers would coat the branches like fallen snow. Redbud trees would soon add patches of brilliant pink, making the world seem a fairyland of spring colors.
As you work on your book, take a look at the setting around your characters. I’m sure you have a vision in your mind as to what they’re doing and saying, but make the scene come alive with enough description of their “location” to pull the reader into the moment.
Good luck with sharing your world with others!
Judith Keim was born and raised in Elmira, New York, and now makes her home in Idaho with her husband and long-haired dachshund, Winston, and other members of her family. Growing up, books were always present - being read, ready to go back to the library or about to be discovered. Information from the books was shared in general conversation, giving all of us in the family a wealth of knowledge and a lot of imagination. Perhaps that is why I was drawn to the idea of writing stories early on. I particularly love to write novels about women who face unexpected challenges with strength and find love along the way. As J.S. Keim I write children's middle-grade stories. I love writing about kids who have interesting, fun, exciting experiences with creatures real and fantastical and with characters who learn to see the world in a different way. I have a story in Chicken Soup to Inspire a Woman's Soul and a story in Belle Book's Mossy Creek Series - A Summer in Mossy Creek. Some of my stories were finals in RWA contests and three of my children's stories have been published in magazines - Highlights for Children, Jack and Jill and Children's Playmate. I hope you enjoy my stories as much as I enjoy telling them! My Website: http://www.judithkeim.com/
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