Sunday, October 7, 2012

Location Location - making the reader feel at home

Being only fifteen, I don't know much about the writing life. However, while currently writing my own manuscript, I have realised that the scene description not only rises my word count substantially but is the repetition that each chapter needs to help link the story together. 

For example, last year in English Literature we studied 'Of Mice and Men'. What many people fail to notice in this book is that each chapter opens with nearly the same scene description, and although there are not many changes in environment it really kept the story realistic. Your manuscript may include more than a barn and a brush, but there is no point in trying to invent new places for each of your chapters because your readers need to know there is some stability in the character's life. 

Young adults also grow attachments to places rather than some of the characters. In which case, you need to find a location that the reader is going to love - Hogwarts has become one of the most desirable places to go, so why don't you let us in to your space? 

If you are having trouble letting us in (perhaps you have based your main location on a private memory) then try to remove your own attachments to it and make it more reader-friendly. If a character doesn't feel like they belong in one place, then neither will the reader. I can guarantee that if Harry Potter had liked Private Drive more than Hogwarts, then we would have had exactly the same view. 

Your main character can be very influential, but your locations set the mood of each character and can sometimes foreshadow the events that are going to happen in that chapter. Try not to give an equal time slot for each location too - one place must always be the superior and your characters are the most comfortable in it. This, for young adults, makes the story more memorable and seem more personal. 

We are not all World Travellers... so why do your characters have to be?

In short: let us inside your location. Open the doors, make the reader feel at home, and greet us like old friends. We won't feel awkward about being in your personal space if you don't.

Have a wonderful day, wherever you are!
The Book Critic x


  1. This is a really interesting observation, and I like this advice very much! It immediately brought to mind my possible "comfort locations" and inspires me to make them a stronger "home" for the reader.

  2. great post! It's very important to establish a setting in order for the reader to fully imerse themself into the story.

  3. great post. It makes me think of the Breakfast Club. The whole story takes place in the school and the way it flows, it makes you wish you were stuck there in detention too.