Monday, 13 January 2014

Location, location, location

When reading or writing, is the story setting important to you? Personally, although I don't need the grid reference for every move a character takes, I do like to feel that they're somewhere, even if all I have to go on is a single reference to the kitchen window.

This bus stop is a location I've used a lot. It's the one where Mavis from Paint Me A Picture sees the children she thinks of as a flock of starlings, where the pale girl snubs her and where she first meets Bert and his wife.

It's also the setting for a few short stories, including this one and is where this one starts.

Bus stops, airports and train stations make good locations, I think. For one thing, you don't need to describe them for readers to form a picture of the scene. Characters can be alone with time to think, or can meet other people. They might be going somewhere exciting, or boring. Could be dreading the day ahead, or eager to get going. Or perhaps they're waiting for someone to arrive?

Tenous link coming up ... Teenagers are often regular bus users... One Teen Story are currently open for submission.

Enter this draw, to win a hotel stay. As you'll see it's book related and I'm sure they have buses in Manchester.

22 comments:

  1. I like locations and settings, though I have to remember to mention them in my own stories sometimes! Like your new cover. Thanks for that one-story link - looks interesting.

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    1. I've written a story and then realised it all happens in empty space before, Rosemary.

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  2. I have set storied in airports and stations and have had the conclusion of a story at a bus stop.

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  3. Nearly all my stories start with a place. I usually see the place before I see the people in it. In fact, most often place is an active character in the tale.

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    1. Having the location as one of the most important factors in the story can work very well, I think, Henry.

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  4. I don't think I've ever used a bus stop in a story!! I use play parks a lot for some reason x

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    1. Writing what you know, Teresa? (I'm thinking of you taking the children, not suggesting you spend all day on the seesaw)

      Perhaps once we use a location we see its potential for other stories, so use it again.

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  5. Some locations you can just mention and everyone can form a picture in their mind of what it looks like.

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  6. I tend to use train stations a lot...and I usually only give one, or two sentences about location. If I'm using a famous city or town, I might make reference to a landmark. Although generally my character comes to life before the place.

    I shall go now, and look at your links. Have a good week Patsy. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. A sentence or two can easily be enough, Maria. There are occassions when more description woks, but it isn't always needed.

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  7. You've got me thinking now, Patsy. I don't seem to use locations a lot but as a number of my stories involve journeys I can see that using a bus stop or a train stations would be good. There is a scene at a busy airport in my novel though.

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    1. I suspect that sometimes the location is such a natural part of the story that we use it without even realising. Eg if the journey is in a car or on a train, mentioning that provides a location of sorts.

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  8. That's a neat and tidy bus stop Patsy. Funny, when I read Mavis, I imagined the bus stop to be slightly more ramshackle than that. Maybe because that's how they are round here! Good idea to have a location. I like church halls for some reason. Not that I go to church, but in stories my characters sometimes do.

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    1. Actually this is a new bus stop in the place of the scruffier one that was there when I wrote the book, Suzy!

      Church halls are good locations. They're easy to imagine and all kinds of things might happen there.

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  9. I will read those stories, thanks.
    Yes, setting is very important to me. I have to be there myself. I "travel" whenever I write...

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    1. I imagine that if you travel with your writing then your reader will too, Julia.

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  10. A flock of starlings is a lovely description, Patsy! And I'm w/you on a sense of place. I hate when I'm reading along and then think- wait, where ARE we here? =)

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  11. You've set me thinking about whether I start with people or places. I like anywhere where people collide, such as supermarkets or queues in the post office. Do you know 'The Smoking Room' TV series? That was one such setting, where people who had nothing in common except smoking were forced together.

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    1. I don't know the series, but I can see that places where people are pushed together would be good story locations, Julia.

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Thanks so much for commenting!