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Location, location, location

As I was lying in bed last night I started thinking about where Saving Tomorrow is set. So far there are no location keys. In fact, typically, I tend to write things without saying where they are. It’s in a city. In the future. On Earth.

But is that enough? Wouldn’t I gain more by placing it into a more specific setting than leaving it to the readers imagination?

This question is tumbling around in my mind a lot today, and so I’m turning to you, my dear readers, for opinions. What works for you?

I’m tossing around the idea of setting the novel in New Zealand. Because, well, it’s where I am. I love the country, I know it, and it would be nice to write something set locally. I’ve avoided writing local in the past because I haven’t read much set here. It seemed like no-one wanted to know about little old NZ. That perhaps writing it set locally would mean it was more difficult to sell to an overseas market.

This is what happens when you have publishers in NZ telling you that NZer’s don’t read fantasy, don’t read science fiction. When there are so very few places within the country that will so much as look at a piece of speculative fiction with an eye to publishing. So of course, my thinking goes, if you want to sell it to the world, you should use a location more people can identify with. Or don’t specify one.

But is that really the case? I love reading sci-fi set on other worlds. Isn’t that kind of the same thing? As long as there is enough in the story that relates to me as a human being, then I can identify with the characters and connect with the novel. That’s what really matters.

Yet, I am still undecided.

To specify, or not? That IS the question.

So tell me, my lovely readers, what do you think? How much does the setting impact on you? Does it really matter?

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10 thoughts on “Location, location, location”

  1. Cassie, it is an interesting question.

    My instinct is to say – write it in NZ, but then would it appeal to an international market. And this is what my second thought was: If the story is good enough, it won’t matter where it is set, it is the characters that you follow, not the place where it is set. Yes setting is important, but the storytelling is the important part.

    Go with your instinct and write the story, the setting will find itself.

  2. I agree with others that you set the story where it sits within you. I was surprised how much I enjoyed stories in the Canterbury anthology that were obviously set in NZ, written with a NZ “voice” – and I wonder if others even recognised that was their origin?

    It is the indeed the characters that lead me around by the nose, and the setting is a background to that and explains some of who they are and why the are. A NZ setting is an ideal place for the innovative, free thinking, bloody minded, practical, pragmatic No 8 wire approach to life – great gusts of it! And equally, for the intangible, mystical and deeply spiritual story – the patupaerehe side of life. We are as rich in our backgrounds as any other place you can imagine.

    Time to stop being a shy Kiwi (pun intended), and let that landscape free I say.

  3. I agree with others that you set the story where it sits within you. I was surprised how much I enjoyed stories in the Canterbury anthology that were obviously set in NZ, written with a NZ “voice” – and I wonder if others even recognised that was their origin?

    It is indeed the characters that lead me around by the nose, and the setting is a background to that and explains some of who they are and why the are. A NZ setting is an ideal place for the innovative, free thinking, bloody minded, practical, pragmatic No 8 wire approach to life – great gusts of it! And equally, for the intangible, mystical and deeply spiritual story – the patupaerehe side of life. We are as rich in our backgrounds as any other place you can imagine.

    Time to stop being a shy Kiwi (pun intended), and let that landscape free I say.

  4. I love to read stories set in other places. I mean, you can only read stories set in Chicago or Seattle so many times before the setting no longer feels as ‘key’ to the story. I’d love to see more book set in other settings, so if placing it in New Zealand clicks for you, I say go for it!

    As for the markets, it sounds like spec fic is a hard sale there anyway, regardless of the setting. And if you look overseas to publish it, the location matters a little less. I can think of several Australia-set books (including a popular UF series, I think Keri Arthur’s but I’d have to check), there are several written in London… Heck I want to believe I’ve read a Paranormal Romance series set in New Zealand… but don’t quote me on it. xD

    Write where the story takes you, good stories people love no matter where they’re set.

  5. Have to agree with most of the posts – set it where it needs to be set…and I’d say having it set in NZ should be a plus. I very deliberately set my “Foreign Country” story in future NZ. It could have been set somewhere else, but having the action take place in Miramar made it more real for me, so hopefully that came through for the readers.
    Another example of good setting was “District 9” – the movie could have been set in the rough end of LA, but by making sure they kept it in South Africa it added a whole other level to the story.

  6. A specific setting can add so much to the story. It can become as influential in the story as a character. So I say build that setting into the story. I’d love to read more stories set in NZ, too.

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