Developing Settings

Question # 7

How do you develop the settings for your stories?

Answer

In the case of Withershins and Spirit Quest, it required extensive research to find out what it was like in 1846. That research included looking up maps of the area at the Manitoba Archives and finding books with old sketches that reflected the scenery of that time period. There is also a website that shows sketches of Upper Fort Garry that helped me orient myself when Michelle went with Duncan to the Upper Fort.

I have written many other stories that haven’t been published yet: Science Fiction, Fantasy, as well as Historical Fiction. In every case, I have to know my fictional environment as if it is a real place still in existence and as well as if I have actually been there, so I can move my characters through it without confusing the reader. I find making my own maps of places that figure strongly in the story helps me envision the setting so I can guide my characters around without losing them. For a fantasy story I am currently working on, I used my husband’s Autocad program (used by engineers and architects) to design my own castle, level-by-level, so I could remember where things were as I was writing about them, in addition to my maps of the fantasy land in which I had set the story.

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