Setting can be such a tricky part of writing for me. On the one hand, if I follow that old adage about writing advice – “write what you know” – I will automatically limit myself to locations I know well enough to recreate on the page.

But what about those places I only know a little bit? Places I have visited, but only a long time ago?

I think that piece telling writers to write what they know has either been totally misquoted, or needs to be thrown out the nearest window. After all, how could we account for Science Fiction of Fantasy genres if people are only supposed to write what they know? Writing what you know sounds like solid advice for essays: craft a solid, expository text based upon what you know. You need to inform your audience or convince them of your argument.

But fiction? I think with fiction we need to cast a spell on the reader. We should be opening a door for that person who has curled up with our books: we are showing them the escape signs and trying to take them outside of the world they know for a few hours or days.

When it comes to writing what you know, what you know is writing. Create your new world on the page, with research, with imagination, with any of the particular magic you employ to cast your spell. Just write the story.

Meanwhile, I’ll be here, writing myself back to lakes and hills and foggy mornings. I am more than ready to return to the water in real life. Since that isn’t an option during life in lockdown, I’ll be writing myself there while I wait.

Writers: how do you choose your settings? I would love to hear from you in the comments.

I hope you all have a wonderful week.


Return to the Water #MondayBlogs

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