I read two great blog posts this week about the idea of setting.
The first was from the ladies at The Readventurer who put together a fantastic post about settings from books they’d most like to visit. There are some awesome ideas—though most of them terrify me because I am not adept at hand-to-hand combat (or any other combat, if I’m going to keep it real). The second great post about setting was from Molly Backes who wrote a guest post on Stacked about the importance of setting in contemporary young adult fiction.
Both posts got me thinking about setting in books and what works for me and what doesn’t—and why some books have such memorable settings, sometimes even overshadowing the characters and plot. And my conclusion is that when setting is strong and memorable, the place almost serves as a character itself. Think about Dillon, Texas in the Greatest Television Show Ever aka Friday Night Lights. The characters would not be who they are if they didn’t live in Dillon—and when they leave Dillon, they’re transformed too (i.e., Tyra and Jason).
Earlier this year, I went up to Seattle for an event featuring Stephanie Perkins, Gayle Forman and Nina LaCour. Stephanie said something that’s stuck with me, that (I’m paraphrasing) she thinks about character first, setting second and plot last. As a reader, that’s the order I think about books too. I can’t buy into a plot if the first two don’t work.
Here are a few books or series with memorable settings.
The Mercyverse - Mercy Thompson; Alpha & Omega Series
Author: Patricia Briggs
Setting: Pacific Northwest (Tri-Cities, Washington) & Rural Montana
I love the world Patricia Briggs created over seven Mercy Thompson books, numerous graphic novels and three books in the spinoff Alpha & Omega series. What strikes me most is that Briggs has taken a very ordinary place and made it quite extraordinary with an eery underworld. When the books shift to Montana for the Alpha & Omega series, the deep cold woods of the region looms large.
Support Clear Eyes, Full Shelves
Buying via these links help support our hosting & podcast production costs.