Monday, April 25, 2011

Does Your Setting Enhance Your Novel?

Today I'd like to write about a story's setting. I believe the setting, based upon an imaginary or actual place, is as important as the characters and plot.

I use the lowcountry of South Carolina as the setting for my novels. Why? First, because this is where I've lived since 1982. Second, the lowcountry of SC has an amazing history. Such a setting brings a story to life. One of the most famous locations in SC is historical downtown Charleston. I've chosen this area for the setting of my third novel, A Cruel Legacy. If you've never visited the lowcountry, throughout the novel you can see in your mind's eye the beauty of the area. The reader who has never been here catches a glimpse of the actual sites in Charleston. The reader who has, re-appreciates the beauty of the area.

Bits and pieces of Charleston's history are experienced by the main character of the novel, Caressa Cruel. The streets of historical Charleston lined with centuries-old mansions, the famous Market Street where slaves were once bought and sold, Fort Sumter where Yankee cannon shots fired upon the city sparking the Civil War, and ghost stories, all play an intricate roll in the novel.

Caressa Cruel is a television newscaster who grew up in Charleston but moved away to escape her father's oppressive hold upon her. She returns when she learns of his imminent death, hoping to heal their fractured relationship and to comfort him. Unfortunately for Caressa, her father reveals a shocking secret. A confession that not only verifies her life is in danger, but also rouses agonizing memories of her troubled past.

When Caressa's father dies before revealing a vital piece of information, he leaves her to search for the answers that would reveal the identity of a killer. Caressa's dilemma intensifies when she discovers the body of a loved one, murdered. She is left heartbroken, without answers, and in danger. Caressa must decipher the details of her father's confession and uncover the truth to expose a killer before he catches her.

Caressa's search for answers sends her on a variety of dire experiences that include the roof of her centuries-old mansion, the streets of historical Charleston, the Charleston Battery, and Fort Sumter.

I believe the Charleston, SC setting helps to make this story alive and believable. What is the setting of your novel? How have you made it come alive and enhance the novel you're working on?


  1. That is great you use your normal stomping grounds as a setting, because you know it so well! If it's real and specific to you, it'll be more real to the reader. Sounds like fun historical flavor. :)

  2. Hey Carol,
    I hope you had a wonderful Easter.

    My settings are fun historical flavor, even the fictional ones. They all take parts of Charleston and bring it to life. I hope after reading one of the novels that my readers feel as though they've been here.

    Have a great week.

  3. First, I love the title of this book.

    Secondly, I've been to Charleston once and what a great city--to visit or for a book's setting.

    The setting for my debut novel, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, (querying agents now) is in the Midwest. I do use farm land, the surrounding lakes and hills as descriptors, but I rely more on dialogue and action more so than setting. Just a personal preference of mine.

  4. Great to hear from you, Beth. I hope you and your family are well. I'm glad you like the title of the book. I know titles are important. I'm also glad you enjoyed your stay in Charleston. Good luck with your querying. Catchy title, Thursdays At Coconuts.I hope you find an agent, in fact, I hope we all do!