When writing fiction, one of the key elements is location and setting. Setting is more than just the city. It’s the environment, the weather, smells, sounds, etc. This has always been one of my weak points, but I’m working on it.
My work in progress, “Shaping Fate,” takes place in London, 1349. At this time, London was gripped by the Black Plague. Believe it or not, it took me a while to figure out “when” to set the story. I knew my protagonist, William, was English, I also knew he wouldn’t be in England for a long time, but I couldn’t figure out the best era in London’s history to tell the story. Two of the themes in “Shaping Fate” are death and rebirth, but the plague still didn’t come to my mind.
One day, I had the good fortune to be watching the BBC’s “A History of Britain” series on the History Channel and there it was! The plague! It decimated Europe, especially the cities, where it was passed quickly from person to person, but from the ashes rose a new breed of Europeans who helped to usher in the Renaissance. The setting for my story was made and I never looked back.
There are tons of great books out there too about this specific period of time and what things were like for these people. It’s a fascinating period and has proven to be a wonderful backdrop for my story.
How do you pick setting? Is it one of the first things that come to you or do you try and find one that fits into your story?