I don’t know what it is about Fifth Avenue… (I’ll explain this thought later in the post)
The tales in my work in progress are set (mainly) in New York and the Dominican Republic. I say “mainly” because as the stories progress, my characters might visit (or reside) in places like Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, rural Illinois, Washington, D.C.… and other locations where I’ve lived for a long time. And my writing future will probably take my tales to most of the places I’ve visited around the world.
This doesn’t mean that my writing is autobiographical or anything of the sort. It’s just that before choosing the setting for a story, I ask myself many questions. For instance:
- How can my characters escape from someone trying to killer them?
- Where can my villains dispose of a body, or hide a kidnapped victim?
- Will the plants of the area support the herb magic I’ll write into the tale?
- How do people react to loud noises (i.e. gunshots, screaming, vociferous sex…)?
- Why would any of my characters choose to live there?
The questions go on and on… and no, they don’t make it into the actual story. But somewhere between the dialogue and narrative, the reader understands:
- Why Luna lives in one of the neediest neighborhoods of Pre-Chaos, NY (formerly Utica)
- The significance of El Monte, Dom. Rep. in the life of AlmaMia Cienfuegos
- And why Jonquil and her sister reside across the street from 1,146 acres of NYC park
As a writer, I chose those settings because I did a lot of case management visits in the area after which I modeled Pre-Chaos, I grew up in wild woods just like the ones El Monte mimics, and I’m very familiar with Jonquil’s park. So… I know escape routes, where to hide if in need, and how the neighbors react to loud sex at different times of the day *grin*… Some writers might say that the internet (and a little travel) will answer all those questions, but I don’t know about that. I’ll use the case of Fifth Avenue as an example.
A few months ago a writer friend asked me to read the first draft of a scene set in New York; Fifth Avenue, to be specific. I told her that I loved the action, the magic, and the burning emotions, but some of the things portrayed in the excerpt would bring someone who has actually been to Fifth Avenue right out of her story.
You see, there was mention of alleys and very loud violence taking place with no one noticing. My friend admitted that she had never visited New York, but for some reason Fifth Avenue came to mind when she started the draft. She went ahead and set the scene in a place she knew better after she edited her work.
Yesterday morning, another writer sent me two chapters set in—wanna guess?—yes, Fifth Avenue. I stopped halfway through the reading of a scene where a character gets raped in an alley (loudly, bloodily and for a very long time) a bit after 11:00 pm. I asked the writer if he had ever been to Fifth Avenue at night, and sent him this picture:
I’ll stop here. But not before saying that after the writer quit being mad at me, we found a very easy way to make the scene believable. Care to suggest how you would have fixed the scene, my Wicked Luvs? Also, if you are a writer, how do you choose your settings? If your art is visual (or more hands on) how do you select your mediums?