When I think about my favorite books, I realize that every single one has something in common. They have a cool setting. There’s an actual place inside the author’s world that intrigues me. I actually want to travel there! I want to live there or take a vacation there or hang out there.
In the Last Song by Nicholas Sparks, the story takes place along the coast of North Carolina- much of it in a small beach house that belongs to Ronnie’s dad. The house and surrounding beach are described so well that I can see myself spending the summer there, listening to the crashing waves and watching the baby turtles scurry through the sand. Nicholas Sparks has created a setting that draws the reader to it.
In the middle grade novel, Breadcrumbs, Anne Ursu has imagined a forest so magical, the characters practically pull you into the story with their bare hands. They’re fanciful and scary and sad and I want to see it all for myself! In The Prince of Fenway Park, cursed creatures actually live underneath the pitching mound at Fenway Park, the stadium where the Boston Red Sox play baseball! There, the sights and smells and sounds are so real any respectable fan would trade their most prized baseball card for a chance to see it for them self.
Sometimes there’s a place I read about that I don’t want to visit though. At all. Like the setting of the Hunger Games arena. That’s one place I will gladly stay away from. But… even that arena and the District 12 setting and the Capitol setting still intrigue me. District 12 is desolate and poor and depressed. Food and safety are luxuries that none of the residents there take for granted. The Capitol district is just the opposite with its over- the- top carnival atmosphere. Residents live well. The hairstyles and makeup are colorful and the food is presented as works of art rather than nourishment. Suzanne Collins describes just enough detail to let the reader use their imagination but still reveals sights, sounds, scents, textures and tastes that make you feel a part of the story.
And that’s what great storytellers do. They use all five senses to describe a scene. They create a place where readers want to go. Whether it’s a house or a barn or a stadium or a town, great story tellers make those places come alive. They make the reader wish that it was a real place. They set up the story and make it feel very real.
When you’re writing your story, strive to do the same thing. Create a place that your reader would love to go…if only they could! Maybe one day the setting you create will be a place readers think about long after the story ends.
So what about your favorites? What are some of the cool places you’ve read about lately?