Wednesday 14 January 2015

The right location

One of the features of this time of year is the stack of holiday brochures dropping through the letter box, or popping up in the e-mail. All the holiday companies are trying to convince you that you need to be planning that very special break. But for a writer, it's not just a holiday destination. It's a Location. 

You often read in book reviews that the city in which the book is set - it's usually a city - has almost become a character in the book. It can be that important. Other times it doesn't matter at all. A book could be set anywhere and still be an excellent read. Sometimes a story has to be set in a very specific location, because the author needs to use something like the Sydney Opera House for a chase scene. Or they just happened to have been on holiday there recently and it was too good an opportunity to miss. That old 'What if' in operation again. I've lost count of the number of museums, art galleries, libraries, theatres where I know exactly where I will be leaving the body. Writers are like that.

A particular scene might call for an urban location, but it doesn't really matter what country it is - so the author gets to chose - probably one that is most familiar, or one that is a particular favourite. Some places lend themselves better than others to different sorts of plot. A proposal is a lot more romantic in Venice than in Manchester. Sorry, Manchester, I know you are a very vibrant city, but you don't have the same ring when it come to the ring .... Now a gritty car chase  and you're talking ...

Of course a lot of this stuff hinges on stereotypes, wish fulfilment, maybe even fashion. 

Is all this waffling about location leading up to something? Well, yes it is. I've been daydreaming lists on buses again, so next week I'm planning to share 10 locations that I've visited and would like to use in a future book and after that 10 more I've never visited and would also like to use. Research may be involved.

Now, where did I put that holiday brochure?  

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