Sunday, November 09, 2008
Olivia, Anthony and Anca reading.
Martin Edwards was talking about setting today on his blog. Wondering whether he would eventually use Barcelona in a story.
I have, on occasion, used a foreign setting in a story (Dubrovnik, Amsterdam, England) but I don't usually do it because most settings don't make themselves known to me that quickly. I spent a year in England and Amsterdam but I was still an outsider, especially where the language is difficult (Manchester more than Amsterdam).
Once or twice, making the characters tourists (Seville) worked. But I really can't capture the essence of a place like Bruges or Barcelona or Nice after spending only a week there.
So most of my stories are set in Philly or Detroit, but very often I set them outside those cities in a fictitious place I call Shelterville. It stands in for all the towns I've lived in or drifted through. Shelterville is amazingly generous in allowing me to modify it to fit the story. Its citizens are amenable to being crooks, scoundrels, victims and caretakers.
How do you handle setting? Are you usually specific about it? Do you ever set stories in places you've never been? (Obviously historical fiction must do this) Does research tell you enough about such places?