Beginning today, I will be doing a blogs two Monday each month aimed at romance authors. Both will contain a success story as well as hints and tips on a subject, such as today’s topic, using real settings in novels. There will be guests and resources from experts to guide authors through the changing worlds of writing, marketing and publishing. Each post will contain a success story, two hints and three resources for more information along with one “Gem of the Week”, a post on another topic that I think is worth noting.
Please share this new post with your writer friends, come learn along with me about the subjects important to romance writers and let me know what you think.
One Success Story
Most experts opine that a particular setting is not critical to a romance novel. Any big city is interchangeable for another, they might say. But what about Julie Orringer’s wonderful novel, Invisible Bridge? It just had to take place in Paris. Scottish Highlander books have to be set in – duh – the Scottish highlands. Can you imagine vampires exposed to daylight anywhere but rainy, overcast Washington? Of course not!
The success of using iconic locations or actual city settings is legion in romance novels. Consider time travel books set in Scotland. There are hundreds of wonderful stories set in the land of druids and ancient mystery. Time travel certainly seems more plausible against that backdrop, doesn’t it?
Using authentic settings, be it an entire city or the top of the Empire State Building, can have dramatic impact on readers. My favorite example of a factual backdrop is Dublin, used with powerful effect in Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series. Her portrayal of the Temple Bar district and it’s nightlife sent me straight to a travel agent. I have strong moments of nostalgia reading Kate Canterbary’s Walsh series, set in my old haunt – Boston. I see a Walsh series tour of Boston in my future. For me, these settings are as powerful as the characters, setting the stage for action that we can relate to in part because the locations are tangible.
I like using real locations in my books, preferring their authenticity and hoping to encourage readers to learn more about some of my favorite places. I use Chicago and its surrounds in my Beguiling Bachelor Series as a love letter to Chicago. In my recent time-travel novella, Our Love is Here to Stay, the legendary Green Mill acted as a key character of the story. Anyone up for a Beguiling Bachelor tour of Chicago?
There are any number of reasons for using real – or fictional – settings, but should you choose to use authentic locations, here are a few tips.
Keep things positive – businesses work hard to create their brand and work as diligently to protect it. If writing about a murder, or anything else most foul, you may want to think about the potential impact on the real setting. But, if you want a romantic dinner for two, use that romantic spot your sweetie took you to for your birthday. Good publicity is almost always welcomed by businesses.
Consider disclaimers and permissions – notice in the prior sentence I said almost always. To protect yourself, you can ask permission before using that locale, but it isn’t necessary. Instead, add a paragraph to your copyright page reminding all readers that it is a work of fiction. You should do that as a matter of course, and consult your lawyer if you aren’t sure. Better safe than sorry.
Three Articles on the Subject:
Gail Z. Martin talks further about using real locations and writing disclaimers in her guest post on The Writers Lens. She also provides a nice middle ground, the option of mentioning authentic locations more subtly. “Using Real People and Places in Fiction”
Using authentic settings, be it an entire city or the top of the Empire State Building, can have dramatic impact on readers. New blog for romance authors www.madisonmichael.net/real-settings/ #amwriting Click To Tweet
Gem of the Week
“How Much Does Content Marketing Cost?” In this post, Siege Media tackles all the aspects of content creation from creating graphics to promoting content. This data-driven post is outstanding at covering every piece of content you can think of and more importantly, sharing what you can expect all aspects of content creation to cost.
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