Monday, 8 July 2013
It's All in the Setting
As I said in my last post, I have two stories out in this month's Fiction Feast and thought I would give you the inspiration behind them. If you have read them, you will realise that they are very different stories (one is my first ghost story), but they have something in common... the setting.
Usually the stories have something of me in them somewhere... usually an incident or a memory that I can build a story around. This time, however, the stories are entirely fictitious and the only link I have to them is the setting. Not surprisingly they are both set in my favourite holiday destination Greece.
Not all my stories are set in places I know - often I fictionalise a town or village - but my favourite way is to close my eyes and recreate in my memory (and then on the page) places I have been to. I try and use all my senses when I am writing and this is so much easier when I have been to that place.
In my story 'Don't Tell the Bride', a major part of the action takes place in a hotel and a taverna in Greece. When I described the setting, I looked at my holiday photos and tried to recreate the sounds and smells as well as what the places looked like.
My second story, 'Sailing into Trouble' is a little different because although again set in Greece, most of the action takes place on a sailing boat, which leads me to my next point... research. This is what you need to do if you don't know anything about what you are writing about and in this case for me it was... sailing!
Why did I write about something I know nothing about? Well, a friend had just got back from a flotilla holiday and I thought a boat would make a great setting. I spent a morning researching on the Internet as much as I could about sailing and wrote down everything I thought might be useful. I then weaved these into my story and hopefully the reader won't ever know I've never set foot on a sailing boat.
As I said before, 'Sailing into Trouble' is my first ghost story (I have since written two more) and if you fancy having a go, you can't go wrong by downloading Kathleen McGurl's book Ghost Stories and How to Write Them (you will all know Kath from her great womagwriters blog). In her book, she will lead you, step by step, through the process of writing this genre of story. I had already written 'Sailing into Trouble' before I had bought Kath's book but now I have read it, I heartily agree with her advice.