I love garnets, and I have several. Some are set in silver, but, to me, they look best in gold. Diamonds, on the other hand, look good in either white or yellow gold settings. Either way, the setting must be right to show the stone off to its best advantage.
It works the same way with the stories we write. Some stories are like diamonds and can be set just about any place or time because they are so universal. Other stories, like garnets, work best in a specific setting. Either way, the setting is going to affect the story and the characters.
Romeo and Juliet was originally set in “fair Verona,” but Bernstein made the same story work in 1950’s New York. He had drugs, gangs, and guns instead of feuding families and swords. The same story would probably work just as well in the American West with a family of cattle ranchers versus sheep ranchers. Then you would have horses and six-guns and lots of wide open spaces. But those different settings definitely affect the characters and the story.
Other stories need a very specific setting. The movie, Out of Africa, with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep would not work well in New Jersey. Not even if you change the title. Africa was too much a part of that movie and that story. Someone suggested Africa was the third character.
My story, Fortune’s Foe, had to be set in Spanish St. Augustine, Florida, in 1740. The setting, and the history, in that book are a very big part of the story. The fort, Castillo de San Marcos, Ft. Mose, the war between the English and the Spanish, the prisoners captured after James Oglethorpe’s failed siege, the runaway slaves who have found safe haven in the colony, are all part of the story. To take that setting away would collapse the story.
Mr. Right’s Baby is set in San Antonio, Texas. The hero is one quarter Comanche, works in the oil business, and lives on a ranch. I guess I could have let him live on a farm outside Cincinnati and work at P&G, but I don’t think the story would be nearly as effective–or as interesting. I think I found the perfect setting for that one.
I hope you find the perfect setting for all your stories. And when you read, pay attention to setting.
Tell me about your favorite book. How does setting affect the story and characters? Would the story work in any other setting?
Thank you, Jennette, for hosting me today.
Michele Stegman is the author of warm, sensual romances. You can find out more about her and her books at her website: www.michelestegman.com. You can find her books on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and in the iBook store.
Jennette says: Thanks for being here, Michele! I know that Time’s Enemy could not have been set anywhere besides Dayton. Readers, what do you think? Michele and I would love to hear from you! And if you enjoy well-researched historical romance with engaging characters and chock-full of sexual tension, Fortune’s Foe is a don’t-miss! I’m going to be away from the computer for awhile, but please know that I appreciate every comment, retweet, and Facebook Share. I’ll be back to reply and visit your blog (if you have one) as soon as I can!