More than a place--it's a writer's muse.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Get Set With Your Setting

It's Wylde Wednesday here at the Text Diva compound and we're drinking mimosas and having strawberries and chocolate. Did you know that today is National Chocolate Day? *pushes plate* Here, have some.

Today we're talking settings. For the love of all that's holy, please do your research. If you've never been to the place where your heroine and hero live, make sure to check out the Chamber of Commerce on the web. It can help you to avoid embarrassing mistakes.

I recently read a book that opened in Topeka, KS. This author had described Topeka to be much like the little town of Easton where I currently live. There is a post office, a bar and bank and that's about it. She has a criminal escape and describes the town as only having one police officer and that residents were so surprised to see this guy running from the one cop that they did nothing to help.

Are you shitting me? Seriously, sorry for the bad language, Liane can wash my keyboard out with soap later, but really? Half of the inmate population we house at Lansing comes from Topeka.

Topeka houses the state governing bodies, so they have more than one cop on duty at a time. The courthouse and other government buildings are flush with security. Not to mention it's the home site for KBI and KDOC, KDOT... Not just government either. Blue Cross and Blue Shield have a corporate headquarters there... it's a busy city.

Not to mention that Topeka has about 300,000 residents which she would have known if she'd googled the town. Five to ten minutes of her time and she would have a reader for life. I liked the story other than that, but such a gross oversight or blatant laziness...

My point? Feel free to fictionalize the setting and bend it for your own use, but you should know what color crayon you're using before you start coloring.


Gail Hart said...

So true - if you're not willing to do the research, it's much better to set your story in a fictional place, than to make mistakes about a REAL place and piss off a boatload of reders who live there!

Marjorie said...

Thank you for posting this! I really feel that authors should do the research so that they can talk intelligently & correctly about a location! If that doesn't work, just make some place up in that general area but don't name it the name of real location. I think it makes you look bad as an author when you name a real place & it's not like that. Ok, I get off my soapbox! LOL

Jennifer L Hart said...

I wrote a very lengthy and insightful reply and then got the word verifier wrong and lost it!

To sum up. You are so right. I live in Concord NC and many of the NASCAR authors don't bother to learn the basics when writing about this HUB for all things speedway.

This is why I created a mascot,EVA the Eager Beaver, who I send on location to scoup prospect settings.

SarannaDeWylde said...


Marjorie-Feel free to hop on the box any time! I can scoot over on my miene, there's plenty of room!

Jennifer-Don't you hate it when that happens? I think I like Eva. Do you have a picture? :)

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