For me, nothing brings a story more vividly to life than a strong sense of place.
Imagine Stephen King’s work without his brilliantly rendered
Place should be as important to a writer as creating realistic three dimensional characters—even if the setting is a fictional place. In my own work,
And it’s really easy to do.
The sights, sounds, and smells of a city are so easy to render that I often wonder why more writers don’t pay more attention to those details. I want my readers to see themselves experiencing the same details that my characters are observing—the heavy smell of garlic outside Irene’s Restaurant, the thick greasy air outside the Clover Grill, or the powerful odor of pine cleaner the French Quarter reeks of every morning as business owners hose down the sidewalks. Those tiny details are what bring a story to life and allow a reader to lose themselves in a fictional world while sitting on the bus, in their living room, or on the beach far away from
Place can also help you define and build a character. As I mentioned before, Gone with the Wind and Scarlett would not have worked without that strong sense of place Mitchell evoked in her prose. If we couldn’t see
When I was creating my character Scotty Bradley, I kind of visualized him as the embodiment of the unusual spirit of
So, when creating your work, don’t forget how important place is to the success of your story. Transport the reader from their living room to a place maybe they’ve never been before, and make them want to go there.
Greg Herren is the award winning author of twelve novels, and currently works as an editor for Bold Strokes Books. His fourth Scotty Bradley novel, VIEUX CARRE VOODOO, will be published on May 15, 2010. Signed copies can be ordered by contacting the Garden District Bookshop in