Conference 2014 - Location, Location, Location
Report published 22 July 2014
Location, location, location! These three words have been on my lips for 25 years. No, not as a writer but as a lowly estate agent. Now I need to switch my brain to the importance of location in my novels.
Janet Gover is full of enthusiasm for her subject and I prepare to take loads of notes even though she’s thoughtfully given us a handout.
Location is the frame for our stories, and Janet quickly adds it’s not just the actual place but all sorts of other external features which can provide a setting, such as smell, sound, weather, even people; not the main characters but a background audience
‘Think of When Harry met Sally, grins Janet , flashing up that unforgettable restaurant scene when Sally throws her head back in simulated ecstasy. “Look at the Jewish matriarchs in the background pointing to her table. That’s why the famous line – I’ll have whatever she’s having - is funny because it comes from such an unexpected quarter.”
She reminds us that even a flashback must be grounded in a setting, and not to forget that a structure such as a house – Manderley, for instance, in Rebecca – can become a character in its own right, even though strictly speaking it’s a setting. “It gives the story another layer,’ Janet points out, ‘and sometimes it turns out to be the most important layer for the plot.”
We learn that settings also strengthen our characters and create a mood, so use them for all they’re worth, by incorporating the senses and emotions to bring your story alive to the reader.
Thanks, Janet. You’ve now made me realise I’ve got to wade through my whole trilogy, scene by scene, to make sure I have all my frames in place. Grrrrr!
Report by Denise Barnes