Pirates, Rum, Ships, and the Dead Body in the Office (NaNoWriMo Adventures)

“A vivid and memorable setting can turn a good novel into a great one” (link).

Okay…so maybe there won’t be a dead body in the office. Hell. I’m not even sure there’s a office at this point. But setting is an important element when it comes to the novel.

Space Opera? Are we talking about a rag tag fugitive fleet of humans running from certain destruction by a fleet of cyborgs? An amazingly evil empire trying to take over the universe gets decimated by a cobbled together fleet of rebellious star fighters and smugglers?

Horror? Are you interested in what happens if a vampire suddenly gets it into his head that a Caribbean vacation might be fun? (Rum Runners anyone??) Demons are interested in taking over the country by undercutting the very foundations upon which that country was built?

Romance? A young woman gets pissed off by a young man’s overbearing sense of pride…and they spend the rest of the story trying to fight the realization that they actually love each other?

Noir? Maltese Falcon, anybody?

War? A guy owns a bar in the middle of a war…and there’s gambling?

Anyhow, one of the things all of these different story lines have in common is that there is a setting. A place where the action happens. Where the hero/heroine gets kissed. Where the villan/demon finally gets overthrown by the subversive rebels intent on taking their country back.

One thing I do is wander around and take photographs of items that I think might be interesting spots where some of my action can take place. These places may or may not appear as they really are. After all, it’s fiction…and I get to create my own reality. For me, places like the Uptown:

offer my own town a point of interest.

Here are some links that might help you work on creating your own setting:
How to Describe Setting in Fiction
The Importance of Setting
Setting: The Key to Science Fiction
15 Ways to Improve the Setting in Your Fiction Writing
Mapping a Fictional Location

I do know that there’s a corner bookstore. It’s red brick. There’s also a diner owned by a guy named Joe. Also there’s a coffee shop…kinda spun off of the Daily Grind in Fell’s Point region in Baltimore. 

And naturally…there’s a pirate ship…even if it is only buried within the historic records. And there is definitely rum…there must always be rum.

And as yet…no dead body. And no office. But hey…there’s still time.

18 days and counting til NaNoWriMo begins again.

Do you know where your setting is?

x-posted over at Dkos

11 comments

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    • kredwyn on October 14, 2007 at 5:01 am
      Author

    I lived at West Egg, the-well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them. my house was at the very tip of the egg, only fifty yards from the Sound, and squeezed between two huge places that rented for twelve or fifteen thousand a season. the one on my right was a colossal affair by any standard-it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. it was Gatsby’s mansion. Or, rather, as I didn’t know Mr. Gatsby, it was a mansion inhabited by a gentleman of that name. My own house was an eyesore, but it was a small eyesore, and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of the water, a partial view of my neighbor’s lawn, and the consoling proximity of millionaires-all for eighty dollars a month.

    Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water, and the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans. Daisy was my second cousin once removed, and I’d known Tom in college. And just after the war I spent two days with them in Chicago.

    The Great Gatsby

  1. And it starts at midnight, tonight.

    Bring warm clothing.

    Is that too cryptic?

  2. oooh, that girl…still got my arm around here.

  3. for the interesting links. I’ll use them on a dark and stormy night.

    • pico on October 14, 2007 at 11:57 pm

    that begin with a description of the setting.  How many of these do y’all know off the top of your heads?  (no cheating!)

    Last night I dreamed I went to Manderlay again.

    riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

    To the red country and part of the grey country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.

    very difficult one:

    Yes, it could begin this way, right here, just like that, in a rather slow and ponderous way, in this neutral place that belongs to all and to none, where people pass by almost without seeing each other, where the life of the building regularly and distantly resounds.

    One of my absolute favorites:

    Snow-Balls have flown their Arcs, starr’d the Sides of Outbuildings, as of Cousins, carried Hats away into the brisk Wind off Delaware,– the Sleds are brought in and their Runners carefully dried and greased, shoes deposited in the back Hall, a stocking’d-foot Descent made upon the great Kitchen, in a purposeful Dither since Morning, punctuated by the ringing Lids of Boilers and Stewing-Pots, fragrant with Pie-Spices, peel’d Fruits, Suet, heated Sugar,– the Children, having all upon the Fly, among rhythmic slaps of Batter and Spoon, coax’d and stolen what they might, proceed, as upon each afternoon all this snowy December, to a comfortable Room at the rear of the House, years since given over to their carefree Assaults.

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