A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!

Julie Moffet . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Monday, April 21, 2014

Where Do Characters Live?

Where do Characters Live?

Has everyone here at NYUS already discovered a great blog—Writer Unboxed?  If not, you might want to take a look.  I revisited the site recently and found a fascinating discussion underway—the importance of place in a novel.  Both the host and commentators were in agreement that setting can virtually become another character.  We all know that, right? 

 One of the commentators, however, famed literary agent, Donald Maass who is a regular on the site, took that awareness one step further.  He said it’s the protagonist’s description of, or attitude toward, place that causes a setting to come alive. 

 For example, if the character describes a boating trip as an idyllic return to nature, chances are good the reader will see it that way too—at least for as long as the scene lasts.  Or if the main character goes camping and the mosquitoes practically carry him off, the reader well may itch in sympathy.

With so much riding on place, it’s not surprising writers think long and hard before deciding where their characters should live.  I’m no exception and made a mental trip around the US before choosing Naples as amateur sleuth Deva Dunne’s home.  In Rooms To Die For, #4 in the Murders by Design Series, Deva’s still enjoying Florida even though the humidity continues to frizz her hair, and the sun hasn’t stopped turning her freckles into polka dots.  She has a lot to enjoy in Naples.  Her interior design business is thriving.  So is her crime-busting relationship with studly Lieutenant Victor Rossi.

 As I began the series, I think I was only subliminally conscious of the fact that Deva’s happiness with her surroundings, the gorgeous sunsets, the beach, the small town feel of Naples helped heal her psychic wounds and gave her the courage to rebuild her future. 

 Today, as I’m now aware, Deva’s attitude toward her new home has helped me turn her brushes with crime, even murder, into a fun-filled, light-hearted series.

 Writer Unboxed:

 Rooms To Die For: Amazon   


debi o'neille said...

Nice post, Jean. I agree that our characters do bring a place to life.

jean harrington said...

Yes, Debi, I agree. The character/place relationship is vital to making a story come alive.

J Wachowski said...

Such an interesting idea! I've lived in lots of cities & I have a sense that where you grew up influences how you look at the world.

So maybe it's a bit of both? The environment has an impact on the character and then the character reflects that perception? I think of the difference between 2 cities that have a lot in common--Chicago & Boston: the grid-like streets of the Midwest versus the squirrely twisty roads of Bean-town. Very different "city characters"

Anne Marie Becker said...

I recently heard a similar slant at a workshop - that setting comes alive once we're in the character's POV. It was a serious ah-ha moment! :) Thanks for this, Jean. Great post.

jean harrington said...

Chicago and Boston, J? Apples and oranges. Love 'em both, but what a different flavor they both have. Point well made. And Anne Marie, agreed, everything comes down to character.

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