Thursday, October 29, 2009

Writing the Where

I visited Alcatraz last Thursday. It was a foggy morning, giving the island an eerie feeling as it appeared (not that Alcatraz needs any help to make it feel eerie).

I took pictures as we walked the path to the cell-block and other buildings of the island. I kept thinking how it was awful that I didn't have a book planned for this setting. I would've been able to use those pictures to create a detailed setting. I'd have been able to accurately describe the rusted and broken top of the water tower, the green moss climbing ten feet up a rock face, and the red roof of the guard tower.


alcatraz

The details in our settings ground us in the story, making us feel that the place (and so the characters) could exist.

Of course, it is much easier to create a vivid setting when you have been to that location. I struggle with real life locations and so prefer to create my own whenever possible. But I still have to make sure the details are right for what hints I want the reader to get about my characters and what emotions I want to evoke.

Do you prefer to write real or made up settings?

8 comments:

Jennifer Shirk said...

I write fake settings based on real settings.
(Wow, that even confused me.) LOL!

Natalie said...

I make up settings, but they are usually based on places I've been.

Cindy said...

I went to Alcatraz when I visited San Francisco a few months ago. Very interesting.

I am actually using San Francisco as the main setting for my new novel and it helps a lot that I've been there. It's such a colorful place, I'm not sure I could write it well enough if I hadn't experienced at least part of it.

Lady Glamis said...

Thank you for sharing this! I've always wanted to go there. And yes, details are very important! If only I could travel everywhere...

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

I went to Alcatraz years ago, on a sunny, warm day. Sitting on the wall above the outdoor exercise yard, looking across the bay at San Francisco...it was incredibly peaceful. Funny how weather can really alter the 'where'. :)

jdcoughlin said...

Love SF and Alcatraz. I used to live there, in SF. It's my favorite kind of weather, shorts and sweater weather. As for settings, I have a place in my mind. In my last book it took place mostly in a house, and I had to draw it out just to make sure I kept the walls all in the right place. But I did go on the web for exterior shots, just to get a little more foundation.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

My first story was a real place. Sedona, AZ. My current WIP is all made up. I'll let you know which I like better. :)

prashant said...

Thank you for sharing this!
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