Posted by: nancycurteman | April 7, 2010

Setting: Know It Well

Setting is one of the critical elements of a good mystery novel. The more an author knows about the place in which her characters grapple with their problems the more convincing the story. Of course, the Internet is a wonderful resource for learning about a region or country. I use it. However, nothing can take the place of actually visiting the setting for your novel because you not only learn about the place, but you feel it, smell it, hear it, touch it and even taste it. You gain insights into traditions, values and behaviors you would never find on the Internet. For all my novels I visit the setting location. I wrote “Murder Down Under” after I’d stayed three weeks in Australia passing time in Sydney and the Outback. For “Murder in a Teacup” I spent two weeks in Southeastern Montana exploring the region, eating, drinking and talking with the people. Although my first novel “Lethal Lesson” takes place in a fictitious town, I patterned it after a Northern California town I knew well. To a large degree setting determines character action. Consider placing your mystery novel in a setting in which you have actually spent some personal research time.

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