Today I am pleased to have Sandra Peut, our Rose and Crown author on the blog today with her guest post 'A Sense of Place' on how she made the Pacific Island setting of her inspirational romance novel Blue Freedom come to life. Thank you to Sandra for her insight into her writing and her great tips!
About Blue Freedom:
Bella Whitman is a freelance health and fitness writer with a tragic history. When she is offered a dream opportunity to undertake a writing assignment which will take her on a journey across the South Pacific islands, she grabs it, despite her misgivings about the arrogant but handsome editor in charge of the magazine, Ethan Gray - and Jay Hinkley, the contract photographer Ethan has hired to travel with her. Despite a rocky start, Bella finds herself being drawn to Jay as they work and travel through the islands. But can this relationship develop into more than a friendship, when he already has a woman in his life? And with a dangerous hitman trailing their every move, can Bella and Jay finish their assignment - despite the shadowy motives of their employer Ethan - and survive a deadly rendezvous with a Thai drug consortium in a nail-biting climax?
Through this fast-paced adventure, Bella is able to find healing from past pain and discover emotional and spiritual freedom.
About Sandra Peut:
Sandra Peut began writing stories for her school friends when she was a young girl. A trained dietitian, she has worked in the fields of nutrition and women's health promotion. Her writing experiences include being a senior writer for an Australian girls' magazine, and involvement with print media in a public relations role. She and her husband have four children aged 8-and-under, and live in regional Queensland, Australia - just a short walk from the beach. Blue Freedom is her first novel.
Have you ever read a novel or watched a movie where the setting almost seemed to be another character?
I recently saw The Lucky One, based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks (author of the bestselling The Notebook). The beautiful scenery of Louisiana – with its lush wooded areas and meandering streams – weaved its way into the plot, taking on a life of its own.
You don’t need whole paragraphs (or pages!) of descriptive prose to help establish the setting of your novel or story. Even just a few well-chosen words or sentences can help transport your readers directly into the scene.
I sought to do this in my own novel, Blue Freedom. Researching the various locations – including New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, and Thailand – on the internet gave me an idea of different aspects of the cultures, people, and landscapes.
I then tried to imagine what it would feel like to be really there:
The tropical humidity hit Bella as she reached the plane’s open door and descended the stairs onto the blazing tarmac… Her senses were assaulted by the bright colours of the islanders’ clothing, the sound of throngs of people talking all at once, the feel of a slight breeze wafting through the open windows and doors.
I can almost smell the tropical flowers and the wafting aroma of delicious dishes from the nearby street market J.
Following are some tips to help you create compelling settings in your writing:
1) Research: you can use the internet, look for relevant books or videos, try travel magazines and brochures – or better yet, go there!
2) Use your imagination to place yourself (and by extension, your characters) in the scene.
3) Engage all your senses: think about what you would see, hear, smell, touch (and even taste).
4) Keep it brief: a few well-placed sentences help to create the right ambience, but don’t slow down the pacing of your story too much.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s over to you =) :
What are some of your suggestions for helping to ‘set the scene’ in your writing?
Can you share some examples of books/authors/movies that demonstrate this aspect particularly well?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.