Thursday, June 4, 2009

SETTINGS: SIMPLY SCENIC OR SPECIALLY SIGNIFICANT? (No.2 post - Contemporary) For No. 1 Post - Historical - see below at The Pirate And The Puritan

Ah, the days are long past when a writer could simply include a scenery description because it is pleasant or pretty. Now it must relate to the story, or the characters, or preferably to both. In 2009 the reader just doesn't have the time to read anything not relevant to the story.

Personally I'm an old-fashioned reader/writer and enjoy such descriptions - if they aren't boring. BUT to be published in the modern era every word we use must carry the book forward. So, what have I done in my contemporary Blueprint For Love?

No research, for one. Research which would be vitally necessary in a historical is not necessary, so that's a relief! Although the area described in Blueprint, Northern Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, is fictional, the only reason is to give myself a certain freedom with street names, beachside suburbs, and the importance of those localities to the plot. For instance, the Palm Garden which features so largely is not a real place - and I did have to research palm specimens! But it is vital and central to the story, as the pivot point over which the heroine and hero clash. And boy, do they clash! He wants to uproot the lot, she wants it left alone.

The point is, I am familiar with the Sunshine Coast area of Queensland and can write about it easily, without worrying that the background might be incorrect in any way. I'm in my sixties now and since I was a small child, after WWII, my family took their annual camping holiday in the area. I loved, still love, the beaches, loved the sea and surf, the rivers and hinterland. Though it's much more upmarket nowadays, and the coastline has taken a recent storm battering, it's still basically the same place I knew when I was growing up. I am quite confident writing about it because I know my facts are right. Certainly the telling of the story comes easier when one is familiar with the 'backdrop', so to speak. I can describe where the hero/heroine are at any one time because I've been in a similar place myself.

Write what you know, is the advice to authors. For the authors of contemporaries, it's certainly a plus to do just that. Oh, and Blueprint is rated as Sophisticated at Classic Romance Revival, which means consenting love scenes between h and h that fall naturally within the plot line and aren't erotica.

Guests - don't forget I have two blogs posted for the CRR carnival. Please comment also on the next one, "How I write my backgrounds - " re my historical The Pirate And The Puritan. Sorry to confuse the issue! Should have put it all together!


lastnerve said...

I loved reading the post and I agree, write what you know. I can't wait to read your book.


Lindsay Townsend said...

I love descriptions, too, Monya! Great post!

Jacquie Rogers said...

Monya, I went for the comfort zone in my current release, too. It's set near where I grew up.

But do you like to write other settings, as well? I notice you said you don't have to research, but then you mentioned something you did have to research, so I don't imagine research puts you off that much, as it does some.

lainey bancroft said...

Monya, I agree. I stay 'close to home' for settings because I don't want research to authenticate a setting to overwhelm me(or steal too much of my writing time)

Really must read Blueprint. I know you worry about falling within the 'sophisticated' tag (as do I) and I'm sure a tastefully written but consummated love scene is fair. (Two other CRR authors have read my novel, Jackpot and my novella Action and Satisfaction and although they are both 'sexy' neither reader/author felt I'd 'crossed the line' and I'm sure you haven't either.) Stop worrying. Enjoy!

Kathleen O said...

I have always wanted to visit the Queensland sunshine coast ever since I read the book the "Thorn Birds". I know they did not actually make the movie version their but I could picture Maggie and Ralph on that beach and boy I wanted to be there..
Great blog..Your book is going on my tbr list for sure.

Danielle Thorne said...

I totally agree with writing what you know--it's much easier! But writing what you don't know can be such a challenge. Being able to do a little of both and do well--something I def aspire to. We need great Aussie romance writers here in the US cuz we seldom get that far to explore for ourselves.

MAGGI said...

Nice to see an Aussie here. I grew up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. I live in the country now, but the ocean has always been important to me. I think it's the sense of freedom we gain from seeing it every day. You never feel shut in. I can't seem to set my books there though. My stories take place somewhere entirely fictional or foreign to me. Two were set in the Australian Outback, but I haven't managed to travel there yet.
Maggi Andersen

She said...

When you're familiar with an area you can add some fictional places as long as you keep the basic facts real. You can't put a flood that lasts for days in an area that others know is a desert. It's important to readers for an author to keep the setting as real as possible.

Linda Banche said...

I'm a description nut, too. I think nowadays there are too few of them. Everything has gone into dialog.

But the descriptions don't have to be accurate in every detail. The big picture is the important thing. After all, it is fiction.

MarthaE said...

Ahh - so here you wrote what you were familiar with... as you point out that is what authors tell aspiring writers. And interesting in this book that your setting plays an important part of your plot where the historical was more background. I think that shows that the setting is important to the characters and plot! mesread[at]

Babyblue22 said...

So no research for you this time.
It must be so much easier and much more fun to have the freedom to write your settings your way.
Atleast you didn't have to worry about lemons this time.

Anonymous said...


Blue Print for Love sounds like such a good read. I love verbal pictorals of the locations in what I read.

Great post!

Pam S

Monya Clayton said...

Thank you all for the constructive comments.

Enjoy your reading.

E.A. West said...

Blueprint for Love sounds like a good read, and using a familiar setting is a great way to avoid research. I ought to know, I do it enough myself, LOL. :) But as you found out with the palm trees, sometimes a little research is necessary to add just a little more veracity to the story.