Location, Location, Location: Details for a Manuscript

Do you create your location first or do you write a scene first?

For a novel, I decide on the location before I start writing. My first three novels take place in a fictitious ski resort in British Columbia, Canada. The fourth novel takes place in the Bahamas. I chose the location first because I wanted to write about people who live in isolated places.

Some scenes dictate a location, but for others, I might write the scene and then chose a location. I keep track of locations in a spreadsheet. This helps me avoid using one place to often. Believe it or not, in a ski resort not everything happens on the mountain.

If I have a scene written and haven’t chosen a location, I do this by looking at the mood of the scene. Is is romantic, frightening, funny, awkward?  I think about where in my created world the scene will have the greatest impact. Then I add the details.

When reviewing a manuscript, I check for the empty stage syndrome. Did I get carried away with action or dialogue and not describe the location? If I did, I work on describing the location. Sometimes at this stage I drop a clue or a red herring based on location.

Do you decide on location first or write a scene first?

Thanks for reading . . .

Setting For A Novel


How to choose a setting for your novel?  That depends on what your story is. But can your story depend on your setting? I think so.

I chose mine because I wanted to write a thriller. I wanted the novel to be tense, and I wanted the setting to have a lot to do with it.

For a mystery novel, choosing a location that isolates your characters, pummels them with bad weather, scares them with wildlife, and gives them nowhere to run, opens up the imagination.

I spent 6 years living in an isolated mountain ski resort, and that had a lot to do with my choice of setting, Even though I write about a fictitious resort, I know what it’s like to live in the depths of BC. Experience lends authenticity; my imagination can do the rest.

Tell me the photo doesn’t give you any ideas for choosing a scary setting.