I’ve been working on a children’s book for some time now…and It’s finished!!!
This is a Halloween story about a cat named Midnight. He works with Velma Von Stinkle at Von Stinkle’s bakery. He needs to go hunt for some ingredients. Instead of finding the ingredient he needs, he finds a great new idea for the bakery.
Grandpa Hal knows he has to go. He has to leave his family and become a man. Sometimes, maturation can be toxic for families.
I know that when I turned 18, I left home. Unlike Grandpa Hal, my departure was planned. I left to go to college. But in some ways, I can relate to Grandpa Hal. When I left home, I was leaving a lot behind – a lot that I wanted to leave behind and pretend had never existed.
I moved over 2,000 miles when I left home, and I never really came back. There is no going back, I guess.
Right now, I’m working on a project that takes place in Georgia in the 1930s.
This excerpt is about Culver Park, a place in fictional Cochransboro, Georgia.
I’ve been thinking about setting a lot. In the past, when I’ve written, my setting tends to be a real place. For example, West Chester, PA; or Houston, Texas. Lucky for me, I’ve lived in both of those places so I can easily draw on my experiences to create the setting.
In my most recent projects, however, I’m doing things a little different. Instead of having their settings take place in very specific, true locations, I’m creating non-fictional towns and places.
Of course, if a story takes place in New York City, you can’t really substitute New York City. The same goes for other big cities and distinct places. However, if I’m writing a story that takes place in a generic smallish town, I’ll make a fictional town.
The town of this story (from which I took the excerpt – I still don’t have a name for the story) is Cochransboro, Georgia. Here are a few easy steps for creating a fictional setting. Note – this may not be applicable to futuristic or fantasy stories.
5 Hints for Creating a Fictional Setting
Know something about the general location. For example, I know a little bit about Georgia. I have been there a few times. Though I haven’t lived there, I have had many experiences in the south (including Arkansas and North Carolina). It is best if you have lived in the location – as you will now many details about plants, animals, landscape, etc.
Utilize Google Maps You will want to do this for several reasons. When I created Cochransboro, GA, I didn’t have a name for it, nor did I have a location for it – other than Georgia. Because I’m only vaguely familiar with Georgia, I had to look at the map. Even if you are very familiar with a state or area where you imagine your fictional location to be, I suggest looking at a map.
Determine a relatively specific place for your location. In creating Cochransboro, there were a few things that I knew it had to be. My main character runs away from Cochransboro and to Atlanta. He is a 16 year old boy. I wanted the location to be about a day’s walk away from Atlanta. Or at least the suburbs of Atlanta. So, I looked all around the area. Eventually, I determined that Cochransboro would be 12 miles east of Devry, Georgia. (Devry is a suburb of Atlanta). I knew that Devry had a streetcar, and that my main character could conceivably walk 12 miles in one day, then catch a streetcar from Devry into Atlanta.
It might sound strange, but it was helpful for me to create this idea of a specific location so that I would know exactly where my character was traveling. It helped for me to know that Grandpa Hal (the main character), would be walking west to get to Devry then to Atlanta. Understanding these details helped me maintain continuity later on.
Look at place names in the surrounding area. I think that the most difficult part of creating a fictional place is creating the name of the place. You want it to sound right. Again, google maps is an incredibly helpful tool here.
Simply zoom in and start looking at the names of towns, streets, counties, etc. You will get a feel for the names. Then, it become easier to name the town.
I can’t remember the moment I came up with Cochransboro. There are common suffixes to places: -ville, -town, -boro, etc. I experimented with other names, then came up with Cochransboro. It felt right. It was right. I feel like Cochransboro, Georgia sounds like a place that would exist. (And it does – in my story!)
Spend a lot of time describing the setting. Keep in mind, you probably will not include this in your text. But describing the setting will help you to understand it. You will then be able to determine what is necessary for the reader to know. Just remember that if you don’t have an intimate understanding of your setting, you will never be able to express it very well to the audience.
What are some of the tricks you use when creating a setting?
I’m writing a story that takes place in the South. I used to live in Houston, Texas – many, many years ago. Then, about three years ago, I lived in Arkansas (for two and a half years). Though I don’t live in the South now, and I’m not sure that I’ll live there anytime soon, it has a place in my heart.
I also love stories written in the south.
How about you? Does the south figure into your literature? Do you like to read stories set in the south?
Right now, I’m working on a big project – set to come out in August 2015.
For right now, this goal requires me to work 1,000 words a day. 🙂 It has been really great to have this creative habit of writing. Not only do I feel like I’m finally getting work done, I have to say, I love being creative.
So – this is an excerpt of what I wrote today. I have actually lived in Tornado Alley (Texas and Arkansas). I don’t like tornadoes.
I’m working on a new project – set to come out in August 2015. 🙂 Here is an excerpt:
Death…this is specifically about the death of a woman (Miriam) who died giving birth to a child. (Mammie is her mother, the baby’s grandmother).
I have to say, I’m so glad that I live in a time when women are able to survive childbirth more often. I’ve had a few difficult pregnancies which have caused me to wonder what my own experience birthing children would have been…
Well, It’s a new year, and of course I’m thinking about my goals – especially my creative goals. One of my major creative goals is to finish a novel and have it accepted for publication. That is lofty, of course, and I’m okay with that.
Since it is a lofty goal that is largely out of my control, my real, achievable goal right now is to work on creative writing projects for an hour a day. That isn’t a lot of time, I know, but I’m a homeschooling mother of four. I have to be realistic, too.
I have another major creative goal, and it is to draw (or sketch, paint, whatever – visual) a picture of a flower every day for a year.
I have been thinking that maybe I’ll post these on this blog, although I’m not sure that I’m ready to commit to posting here daily. That takes a lot of time that I’m not sure I have.
So – I won’t post daily. I think that I’ll post a highlight once a week. Here on Saturdays. That’s nice. I’ll pick my best picture, and I’ll think of a thought to go with it.
For now, here’s a favorite sketch from the week.
This is a sketch of a globemallow, or a Desert Globemallow. They grow all over the place here. We took a small hike in the nearby trails, and there was a large patch of globemallows growing. Naturally, I sketched it.
I think that they are pretty, even though I’m realizing they are ordinary.
Why is it that we think that something ordinary isn’t as beautiful as something rare? We overlook the Globemallows and the Brittle Bush blooms because they are so plentiful here in the Desert. Maybe I enjoy them so much because I didn’t grow up in the desert.
I’m trying to enjoy the ordinary more.
When I hiked with my kids, we took a long lunch. The intention was to let them play outside for at least an hour and a half. They need more outside time. I need more outside time. It was nice. I was tired, so I just laid down on the ground. It was kind of a strange feeling – to be in direct contact with the earth. There was no blanket, no mat, nothing between me and the desert floor.
At first, I kind of felt all creepy – what if there is a bug. Luckily, it is December, so there aren’t going to be any of the dangerous bugs or critters, and I was able to catch a few z’s.
I just had to wonder – is there energy? Is there a connection between us and the earth that we’re missing out on these days? It was nice to think about until my hips got sore from the hard ground. Then I got up, drew a globemallow, and went home.