I’m the sort of writer that gets inspired by oddball characters or intriguing situations. Rarely do I find inspiration in a place. Settings are not my bag in my fiction; I prefer to give a hint and move on to juicy dialogue or a cracking action sequence. Okay, sometimes I like exploring the feeling that setting evokes. But I don’t waste a lot of time on it.
Last week, however, I took a road trip to a place where I’m thinking of setting my next novel, and I was amazed. The setting actually informed how I want this story to unfold. I never had that happen to me before. Maybe I’d been going about this setting thing bass-ackwards (and that wouldn’t be the first time :-)).
The landscape, the foodways, folkways, even road signs all provided inspiration I’m convinced I wouldn’t have found if I read it in a book or even a documentary film. Being There was everything.
I have a memory like a sieve and I worried that I wouldn’t remember some of the more ephemeral things that contribute to evoking a place in an authentic way. So I made sure I did the following: