Some one asked me the other day, how do I decide on the location and settings for my books. How do I decide where I'm going to place my characters and where they're going to go throughout the course of the stories? I was surprised at how difficult it was for me to answer these seemingly simple questions. I live in Miami, so I do tend to place my characters in the South Florida region. However, I've also spent time in both Southern California and New York City. In all honesty sometimes I consider my setting or location as a secondary character, and sometimes I use it as a tool to drive my characters together in other instances I barely give it a thought.I let the characters personalities and situations dictate the setting for me.
In Negotiating Skills, I barely describe any of the locations with the exception of Victor's office. That is where I wanted all of the action to occur, so that was the setting/location that I describe in more detail. In all of other scenes I wanted the readers focus to be completely centered on the attraction and tension between the H/H. However, I felt deliberately increased the level of description of Victor's office because I felt it actually added to the tension or sensuality of those scenes.
Conversely my characters in HTKYI definitely get around town. In this instance I chose to use the city of Miami and some of it's landmarks as a type of secondary character. I use everything from the heaviness of the humid air to the vibrant colors of South beach to paint a picture of the world Dante and Jasmine live in. I felt that this level of description added to story instead of taking away from it.
Currently I'm working on another novella that takes place completely in a one room cabin in the heart of the Colorado mountains (definitely a whole world away from Miami). When I was originally inspired to write this story I planned on the cabin being an actual large home in the mountains. However, by the time I got through the first chapter I realized that there was no way my hero was going to get his way unless he broke down some of my heroine's boundaries, so I had to break a few walls in the process to make that happen. For this novella there is literally nowhere to hide and I'm using that as a tool to build both tension and closeness between my H/H.
After trying to explain this to my friend who asked the question that prompted this post I began to really analyze some of my most recent favorite romance novels. Each author used location and setting in different ways. In Karen Marie Moning's Fever series her locations are definitely characters in her novels. They add to each and every scene and enhance them tenfold. I can't imagine reading that series without the description of Barron's bookstore or the ever darkening city of Dublin (unless there were more naked Barrons scenes that is, hmmmmm Barrons). I recently read Nia K. Foxx's Gargoyle's Mate and loved the description of Lorn's castle. I think it helped not only add to his character description but add to the gargoyle lore Foxx created in the story.
When it comes to books there are so many subtleties to what goes into writing something that pulls a reader in and doesn't jarringly drop them. As a writer I tend to let storyline and characters dictate my setting and in the end don't realize what I've done with it until I'm done with a scene. How often do we as readers discount setting and location unknowingly? Just a little chocolate for thought for your Wednesday afternoon!
Talk to you soon,