Novel idea (setting)

Last month I boldly declared myself a writer, so I thought I should get to some actual writing.  One particular idea has been lingering in my mind for a few years and I’ve been slowly fleshing it out since April.

Over the last week I have been overflowing with thoughts and questions about my characters – their goals, their desires, their arcs, their obstacles.  Consequently I have little else on my mind so I hope you won’t mind this departure from my typical mommy blog fare.  If you mind, I’ll be back to it soon enough.  Check back in a few days.

If you are game for taking a ride into my fiction world, today’s topic is setting.  I, personally, am a city girl and most of my travel consists of visiting other cities around the world or tropical islands.  I have little to no experience with what I envision as the setting for my story.

The novel is a dark thriller – no mommies or budding romances here.  I might call it fantasy, but don’t worry, there are no goblins or trolls or vampires either.  I feel in my gut it needs to be in particular place, even though I have no first hand knowledge of this location.

This is the rough sketch I have in my mind:

-the town is full of big, old houses with rickety fences in disrepair.

-hot spots include a bar, a hospital and a university.

-the landscape is sparse.  The summers are blistering, the winters frigid.  No tree-lined streets.  No lush gardens.  Even if the climate would sustain them, the inhabitants couldn’t.

-there are wooded areas.  Or at least one.

-there may (or may not) be a lake.

-most of the residents have lived their whole lives in this town, though a fair amount have gone off to war and returned.

This is where I turn to you my friends. Have you been to this place?  Do you know it otherwise?  Where in the US is it (town, state, region)?  Are there other distinguishing features that pop into your head?

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11 thoughts on “Novel idea (setting)

  1. Sounds a little bit Wisconsin to me. Never personally been there, but my husband is always looking for property out there and attempt to persuade me…which will NEVER happen….EVER. Good luck. Keep going with it.

  2. I lived in the midwest for years, and this definitely feels like the midwest to me. In particular, the town where I went to college in Grinnell, Iowa. There was also a main street with the one movie theater in town. And a Wal-Mart.

    • I live in Iowa and I could definitely see this being set in Iowa, but I think a place with more stark geography and more extreme weather might make sense, like North or South Dakota. They’re more plains-y and definitely have the frigidity/blistering thing going on. The Dakotas also have a sparse population and aren’t exactly a hot destination. Think Fargo.

  3. Sounds like Wisconsin to me, too – which is where I grew up! Although I would say that Wisconsin has a lot of trees. So you’d get the wooded area, but you would also have tree-lined streets. Somewhere further south (maybe Missouri?) would be more sparse and not have tree-lined streets, but the winters wouldn’t be as frigid. Wisconsin is super hot and humid in the summer and the winters are incredibly cold. We’re talking 20 below wind chills on a pretty regular basis. Wisconsin is also full of lakes, so almost any town is either on a lake, or very close to a lake. Wisconsin has the highest ratio of bars to population, and in many small towns the main “hot spots” would be a bar (or a few), a church and a hospital. And it’s very common for people to stay all their lives in one town – I was lucky to get out!

    I’ll be curious to hear what others say. I’m sure there are a lot of areas of the country that could fit your descriptions.

    And actually, now that I think of it, North Dakota might be even better. Sparse and you get the cold winters. And it’s desolate up there. My brother-in-law is from there and his family is super sparse. No one leaves, I don’t really picture them doing upkeep on their lawns, the idea of the bar and the church being the main things in town would be the same, etc. Might be a good setting.

    I can’t wait to hear more about your novel! I’m sitting on the couch right now doing research for my novel! Let’s keep each other honest :)

  4. Oooooh – I’m already reading this book. Add the lake. For sure. Reflections that play with reality and dark surfaces are always an opportunity for suspense. This does sound like areas of Iowa as @Meredith mentioned – woods, open areas (okay, some of us take care of our fences, but not all of us), and the pour in to the larger cities from rural areas has left many rural areas a fun place to set a book – locals who know locals – and would recognize an outsider.

    Can I read it now? Are you done yet? 😉

  5. I’m intrigued and excited to read your work as you go along! Congrats on your great ideas and for asking for help/teasing us with your brilliance! The setting you described reminds me of upper Minnesota or somewhere in Canada, maybe outside Quebec City … keep us posted!

  6. Oh my gosh, I don’t know where this setting is but I am really excited to hear more about your story and I like where you’re going with the background so far. Are you going to post chapters or little pieces as you write on your blog? Will you do it for cookies? I’ll send you cookies! Hope your ideas and writing continue to flow, I feel you be great!

  7. I was thinking England, like where Audrey Niffinegger (sp?) set her recent fiction novel….I can’t think of the name but it was right by a real cemetery and seemed SUPER creepy. Also, maybe like Hornby’s northern England or Ireland….I was picturing Breaking the Waves or Waking Ned Devine. Gonna be good. All my shit is set in CHicago because I seem to lack imagination. You are brave.

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