Do you need to experience your setting?

I decided to write my posts on the weekend so that I had time freed up during the week. This decision made me so happy and proud.

So its 8 am Tuesday…I am not so happy or proud…

Nothing ever goes to plan.

I went to Sydney recently for a wedding, and it was the perfect opportunity to inhale the sights and sounds since my characters are going to take a jaunt there quite early in book two. Ferrying past the Sydney Opera House during the day,  I couldn’t help but think, “Is that Mission Brown in the eye bit? Is there a really big  fence somewhere in Sydney left unpainted so that the Opera House could use this as part of their colour palate? ” So, I didn’t really get any tinglings.

Have you noticed, though, that unplanned gatherings or the ones you dread the most end up being the most fun?

Maybe the same can be said for inspiration – that it hits at unexpected times in unexpected places. You can’t always force it.

I drove around Paddington in Brisbane to look at the ‘Queenslanders’ – the house my characters live in.

I changed no details about the houses themselves in the book, but I did find a huge Moreton Bay Fig towering over a lone park bench on the corner of a suburban street.

No, I didn’t end up changing the setting so that my characters now live  in a tree house – painted Mission Brown –  but the tree secured my idea about the book cover, and I did add a new scene to the book where Mae would find solitude here, would run to this place to prove to herself that she could. The introduction of the scene ended up tying in with her past,  showing why her childhood crush never pursued her earlier: if he ran after her, she just ran further. Kind of like my dog when she escapes the house….

See, it hits in unexpected places.

So, do you need to experience your setting to become inspired enough to write about it?




6 thoughts on “Do you need to experience your setting?

  1. That’s such an interesting question, and thanks for another thought-provoking post (and such a great example of how you live your life alongside your writing and run with the inspiration when it appears). I guess, for me, it isn’t always necessary to experience the setting but, like you, I’ve made the most of unexpected opportunities when they came along. For me, much of the excitement of writing is to be found on these ‘gold dust’ occasions. And I never forget them.

    • I think it helps if I’ve been there at some point, but I don’t think I need to be there when I’m writing it. But I have been to the UK once and would like to go again, and this is where ‘head office’ is for my fictional organisation. Thanks for stopping by again, Marcus 🙂

  2. It’s kind of hard to experience settings when you write a lot of speculative fiction, but it is nice once and a while to find a setting I love and write in the moment of it. Sometimes I also like to write about settings I’ve never been to but want to go to, like Ireland.

    • I was actually going to pointedly mention high fantasy and say – and good luck to fantasy and sci-fi writers if you would like to achieve this lol. But in all seriousness, I would find high fantasy quite daunting. And I wouldn’t know where to start with sci-fi. You draw inspiration for worlds through researching many countries and cultures through history for fantasy? I find that amazing. With urban, we can still draw on the city as it stands now, so it’s a lot easier.

    • I am often scared by the prospect of writing fantasy, though. Where do I start? Is my imagination that stunted? As with anything, I worry about the research requirements and worry I am not steeped enough into multiple cultures to create a vivid world.

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