Tag Archives: setting

Sunday Funday, writer style


Yes, I have already switched notebooks for my bullet journal. Now, I’m in a faux Midori, traveler’s notebook style. It allows me to keep all my separate notebooks in one place – I have my trackers, my dailies, and my writing. 

Ah, writing. 

Things are not going so well there. Depression clouds many things, and I don’t mind telling you: I’m in a great fog right now. So, while words are elusive, planning goes in bits and fits. 

Today, I’m looking at setting. It’s a cozy series, so I need a small town. None of this small community within the big city for me. (Which I do enjoy, btw, and am not disparaging – I’m just not familiar with big cities!)

Now, small towns? Those I know. But I absolutely do not want one of the super tiny villages in Illinois. No, I want something a bit bigger – more attractive, more touristy. 

I found list of ten small towns in Illinois. Narrowed that down to five. And then had to make it four because one is just too small. 

At least, I think it’s too small. It’s something like 963 for population, I believe. It’s Elsah, Illinois and it’s absolutely  beautiful. And perhaps Hollis will find she has a cousin there, eh? 

Now, I really wanted something in central, Illinois but I’m not certain that’s feasible. But, I continue to compile a list. By the end of the week, I will have made my choice. 

Here are the contestants: 

  1. Galena
  2. Lebanon
  3. Fulton
  4. Greenville
  5. Nauvoo

Oh. I thought I started with five, but it appears I had six. 

What’s your setting research like? 

Setting Time & Place

lordy. I said I was going to start posting again, then gave you nothing but radio silence. Rude.

So today, I sat down and planned out posting ideas for 4 days a week. That’s right – new material from Laura 4 days a week. The other three days? I don’t know yet.

Today is, of course, Tidbit Tuesday over in my writing group. But I don’t want to drop some lines on you and run. I want interactions. I crave our interactions. So what I propose, is that I share these beautiful ten (or so) lines that have been cut – and the inspiration/research/resources behind them.

First, the lines:

Well, that didn’t go as planned. I realized, as I am digging through all my links and files, that I never actually wrote the scene I wanted to talk about today. How embarrassing. See, I had this half-decent outline and a BRILLIANT character sketch going, one where I really got to know Sarah and Stratford. Then I sat down to write, and Sarah was like, nope. So, we threw all that out. And started over. I tossed the Little Red Riding Hood theme because she refused to play along. And between you and I, I much prefer the Sarah she revealed herself to be.

Here, by the way, is the outline section I wanted to share:

  1. Open Image: Dooley Cottage, Portsmouth – drawing room – April 3, 1812
  2. Sarah is reading a paper, specifically about an event which will seal time/place
  3. Mention of Lord Byron’s first two Cantos of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, which sold out in 5 days – she looks to her copy, lying atop RHoD
  4. Flippant remark to her companion, a mangy looking cat that she rescued from a hunting trap
  5. Toss a comment to maid about setting up a basket for that nice Mrs. Dickens
  6. Little Charlie must be close to two months now, Mary.
  7. Perhaps I shall drop in, deliver the basket myself.
  8. Mourning attire mentioned casually
  9. Her lavender muslin was not enough to ward off the chill, even with the fire built up
  10. 10. Fingering the small keepsake from Nan

As you can see, I was going to talk about specific events which happened prior to, or around, the time this scene took place – the birth of Charles Dickens and the publication of Lord Byron. And with those two (relatively) minor occurrences, I would have been able to fully ground the reader in the time and place.

If you are familiar with Regency Era mourning clothing, you might have known what the significance of the lavender gown was. Perhaps not.

By the way, please forgive the formatting. I assure you that in Word, it is a properly formatted outline. It just didn’t translate well to WordPress, lol.

So, that is how I prefer to ground readers in time and place – by subtly planted clues. I’ve also been known to just plant a date at the top of a scene, but sometimes, that feels like cheating to me.

(And I even managed 10 lines that have been cut, just not what you were expecting, lol).

How do you ground readers into the time and place of your novel?