Saturday, November 3, 2007

Settings....intriguing, or not..

Hi, Everyone!

First of all, I need to apologize for not being here last Saturday. I was with my family up on the north shore of Lake Superior-- at the beautiful, rustic resort that my parents visited every October from 1943 until the year before my father died, in 1999. I grew up enjoying the brilliant fall colors and deep sapphire blue of the lake on our annual fall trips, and now my own children love it, too... but another big reason to go is to take my mother, so she can continue to enjoy that magnificent place.

That area of Lake Superior-- though not that specific resort-- became the setting of my first book back in 1999. The drama of the storms up there, the wild beauty of the rocky cliffs and waterfalls and incredible vistas seemed like the perfect setting for a romantic suspense. Imagine a lake so powerful that in 1905, there were twenty shipwrecks on that side of the lake in a single day!

Since then, I've set all of my books in places where I felt the landscape and the history of the land would lend themselves to the kind of stories I wanted to tell. I was speaking at a conference back in September, and when someone asked about settings for novels, I listed the ones that have really called to me so far--the mountains of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana. The vastness of Texas. The beautiful lake country of northern Minnesota or Wisconsin. The Enchanted Circle. I jokingly said that I would never succumb to my husband's request that I set a novel in our rural Midwestern state. It has been a wonderful place to raise our family, but I figured it might not hold the romantic and suspenseful allure of other places.

I then learned that a couple of the other speakers had written highly successful books set in my state, and remembered that there are several suspense writers who have set entire series here. One of these days, I will need to give it a try!

So... to those of you who are writing, whether this is your first book or your 15th, what do you start with when you began a story? With the setting, or characters, or a specific conflict? There's no one right or wrong way, believe me.

Ask most authors, and they'll tell you that they have a consistent starting point. Some start with plot. Some with a great crisis situation. Some with an intriguing character. Some with a specific setting. I usually start with setting. Why? Because I'll essentially be living there for the months it takes to write a book. I want to use areas that interest me. Places that might intrigue readers.

Readers--do you have a setting that you love to read about? Or does it make any difference at all? If you were to pick up a book and read the blurb on the back, are there settings that would keep you from reading the book?

Next week...I'd like to talk about intriguing characters. Hope you'll be back!

Roxanne Rustand

PS: Starting on November 12th, I'll have a FREE online read at called Dangerous Redemption.

The twenty short chapters will run Mondays-Fridays for four weeks. It's a romantic suspense set in the Wyoming Rockies, and I hope you'll join me !

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