Finding “Place”

Place. Where your story is set. How important is this?

First there is the planning. Why are you setting your story in your chosen venue? It may be because you know it – and certainly if you want to create vivid and/or complex pictures in your writing, being able to visualise it helps. Readers want to see it, so you need to as well. But you may have your work cut out for you (or at least something more to consider) if you want to create an eerie isolated environment in let’s say central Manhattan.

You may pick location because of the landscape you want – and then the heat/ Palm trees say of Tahiti will enhance romance and your characters getting their clothes off…

Secondly though, having chosen the location (or multiple locations) each needs to work. Part is the visuals, but then there is the characters reactions to the environment. You can go there, go into your memories, watch DVDs to help this. Then add in the wonders of imagination… Mark Henshaw sets The Snow Kimono in (unsurprisingly) Japan and I (& I believe Japanese readers) experience it as authentic. Yet he has never been there.

Right now I am on day 57 of walking the Camino from Cluny in France to Santiago on the west coast of Spain. I have done much of this walk before (though this time we are finishing on the Camino Frances rather than the coastal route). For the joint romantic comedy Left Right that Graeme and I are writing the “being here” and living it is invaluable. Memories of 5 years ago had mellowed. Now once again I can see the brilliant gold canola fields, smell the honey in the spring flowers, feel the rain trickling down my neck and the pain each night in my feet. And like Hemingway we are writing well fuelled…imageimage

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About annebuist

Anne Buist is the Chair of Women’s Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and has over 25 years clinical and research experience in perinatal psychiatry. She works with Protective Services and the legal system in cases of abuse, kidnapping, infanticide and murder. Medea’s Curse is her first mainstream psychological thriller. Professor Buist is married to novelist Graeme Simsion and has two children.
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