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Nov 23

Overdoing the Setting

When writing a story that is set in a place that you have not grown up in or spent years living in, you can sometimes fall into the trap of overdoing the setting. Hopefully, you have at least spent some time, maybe a month or two, in your setting and if you have, the things that will stick out most in your mind are the things that make that place different from where you are use to.

When I decided that The Daughter of Man was going to be set in Florida, I headed south for an entire summer and spent the time exploring my setting and seeing what made Florida unique. When I returned home the differences stuck out in my mind. I was thinking of palm trees and sweet tea and as I began to write it was amazing how my characters all seemed to want to drink sweet tea in my book. I was falling into the overdoing the setting trap. It wasn’t until after my first draft that I realized what I had done and corrected it in the next draft.

What you have to keep in mind is that your characters live in that setting and the new and cool things to a visitor are old hat and taken for granted by them. In my example, sure some of the characters will enjoy sweet tea, but they will also enjoy all the other beverages too such as soda, coffee, and even water. They will be no more transfixed by a palm tree as I would be by a maple tree. Once I got that concept into my head, my settings became authenticate and my characters became real residents of those settings.

5 comments

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  1. Pete Denton

    Good idea to live in your setting for a while. Not always easy to do but the little details make all the difference.

  2. camountain

    I completely agree. I would not have been able to set my current novel in Florida if I had not spent a four month summer there.

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  4. Sook Grosh

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  5. Jesse Boskoff

    Really enjoyed the information, appreciate it.

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