April 14, 2022 I published the first part of this blog post series, April 28, the second part followed. The third part was published May 26, 2022. This blog post series talks about the best part of telling a story. There are so many good parts, to me, each holds its own appeal. Let’s have a look at them again:
1. Drafting the plot
2. Finding a motive
3. Creating the protagonist and antagonist
4. Finding the perfect location
5. Thinking of plot twists
6. Create side characters
[7. Depending on the story, maybe even create a world]
Now, let’s find out what ‘the perfect location’ means, and where it’s supposed to be?
One of the main rules of writing says: “Write what you know.”
Besides that being the most misunderstood advice when it comes to writing, it still holds a little piece of good meaning, when it comes to ‘location’. ( Nathan Englander, the critically acclaimed author of ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank’ says, that authencitiy in fiction means thinly veiled autobiography. If you’re a drunken, bralwing adventurer like Hemingway, no problem, but Englander says, growing up he watched TV, played videogames and dreamt about being a writer. Was he supposed to write about the Atari 2600? Englander says, ‘Write what you know’ isn’t about events, it’s about emotions. Have you experienced love, jealousy, longing, or loss? According to Englander, it doesn’t matter where the story takes place, your front yard, or another galaxy, if you’re writing what you know, the reader will believe you. (Source: Bigthink.com).
And here, I admit, my opinion is divided. Part of me wants to agree with Nathan Englander, the other part doesn’t. And that’s mainly, because ‘The Council of Twelve’ series mentions places on Earth, where, in many cases, I have been before, but also, Heaven and Hell, where you normally don’t go, at least not, until you face the Grim Reaper.
How can I write about locations nobody alive has ever set foot in? And that’s the fantasy writer in me, who wants to agree with Englander. You’re right… it doesn’t matter where the location is. I can make it up, I write fantasy… I can create locations that serve my story, that are as horrible, or as beautiful, as I need them to be…
The other half of me, working on a crime story, wants to scream: STOP! Of course, it matters, where the story takes place! How can I write about a murder that is happening in a dirty back alley in Shanghai? I have never been in that city. (Except at the airport, but that’s a different story, and not for now)… What’s wrong with the murder in Tuscon, Arizona, where the writer lives, or in Tulsa, Oklahoma, or in Keystone, South Dakota, if the writer grew up there and knows every building like the back of their hand?
To me, writing my crime story, meant I picked the location I knew, and that’s where I lived at the time. I was busy enough with creating a crime, a plot, keeping my characters straight, inventing, writing, changing, adjusting, trying to feel like an evil individual and being impatient because it took longer than expected… I didn’t have time to make up locations I have never seen before.
I read a series of books I love very much, Don Massenzio’s Frank Rozzani Books. Don Massenzio’s main protagonist, Frank Rozzani was born, where the author was born, and he lives, where the author lives, in Jacksonville, Florida. I doubt very much that is a coincidence. Don Massenzio, I’m sure, will answer our questions hereof.
As for my preferences: I enjoyed both, mentioning places, where I’ve been, where I lived at the time, what I saw, and show them in my books… but also I immensely thrive in the process of creating locations that don’t exist.
When you’re a writer, what do you enjoy? Have you experienced both in your career? What do you enjoy most? When you’re a reader, and you read in a book about a location you have seen, do you judge the story according to the accuracy of the places? Let us know in the comments, we are curious.