Settling on a Setting

TampaAny real estate agent will tell you, “It’s all about location, location, location!” Perhaps that’s the reason the first question I want to answer in regards to this book is where it will take place. I can say one thing for certain, it will be New England.

Write what you know, that’s what our teachers all told us, right? I find the vast expanses of Wyoming and Montana as romantic as the next person, but I don’t know much about those places. Other than a roadtrip to Yellowstone as a kid, I haven’t spent any time there. I have a big enough learning curve when it comes to writing a romance that I don’t think I want to have to constantly be double-checking facts about my setting.

More importantly, I love New England. I love the coast and the mountains. I love the colors in the autumn and the first flakes in winter. I love the old houses and the family farms that still dot the landscape. It’s hard to imagine any place more perfect for a romance.

Chris Barker, Flickr Creative Commons

Chris Barker, Flickr Creative Commons

But New England isn’t one big homogeneous place. This could take place in the mountains of a Vermont in a small town. It could take place on a farm in Massachusetts. Or it could take place along the rocky coast of Maine. Better yet, it could take place on one of the many beautiful coastal islands that many people call home.

I’m drawn to the idea of island life, but I don’t know much about it. For a born and bred New Englander, I’ve spent a disturbingly small amount of time on the nearby islands. I’ve been to Cape Cod, so maybe that beach setting is good enough? Maybe I should stick to what I know better, in-land New England’s rolling hills and small towns.

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Church and Autumn Leaves, Stowe, VT — Patrick, Flickr Creative Commons

Until I put pen-to-paper, I’m not sure I’ll know the answer to any of this. What is certain is that setting shapes the story, so I need to get this figured out pronto. Will our hero be a fisherman or a farmer? Will our heroine arrive on a ferry or on foot? All of these things can only be sorted out once the location is fixed.

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