Location, Location, Location

04 Jun

Real estate agents have a mantra – Location, location, location! And they’re right. Location can mean the difference between a successful choice or one that doesn’t quite work out the way you’d thought.

Earlier this spring, a mourning dove built a nest in a pot of pansies hanging over part of our patio. I wish I could’ve told her she’d chosen a poor location. The flowers were near the grilling station and next to an area where we sit outside. It was exposed to all the elements. From inside, we watched her sit on the nest through sun, rain and wind. Our excitement grew as the days went by. Surely little birds would be chirping soon. One day, she flew away, leaving three perfect little eggs behind. We waited, but she never returned.

Now a little wren is sitting on eggs in a nest built into a wreath by our front door. The nest is protected from the elements. Her only problem is that people have to pass the nest to get inside. (I’ve posted a sign on a post outside that warns people that Mama Bird is in the nest and we try not to use the front door too often. She seems to understand we won’t disturb her home.

Why this story? So I can tie it into writing. (I hear some of you groaning! )

Choosing a location for your story is as important as a mama bird choosing a site for her nest. A location or setting can often be a huge part of your story. I love reading about places I haven’t visited.

How about you? What stories have you loved in large part because of their location?


Posted by on June 4, 2013 in Idaho


18 responses to “Location, Location, Location

  1. Janis McCurry

    June 4, 2013 at 7:08 AM

    I used Kentucky for one of my books and adore it and the whole race horse farm culture. I learned that while here in the West, my grandpa called his Appaloosa homesetad a ranch, in Kentucky, they called them farms if they have race horses.

    That’s been my favorite. Next favorite has been Lake Tahoe, either side.

  2. Judith Keim

    June 4, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    Thanks, Janis! I love stories of places I’ve never been and will always remember reading stories of the West when I was very small and later, loved stories set in Africa.

  3. Peggy Staggs

    June 4, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    This seems to be the year of unfortunate bird nest locations. We had a mom duck build a wonderful nest under one of our bushes. It was lined with down and she was totally protected…except from the sprinklers. It was sad. Our drip system flooded her nest–before she laid her eggs–and she left. Now we have a little Killdeer who has laid her eggs next to our driveway. She has a fit at the dogs, but she’s holding her ground.
    I agree location is all important. You can have the best story in the world, but if it doesn’t fit the location it will hit a wrong note and ruin or at least, detract from the flow of the story.

    • Judith Keim

      June 4, 2013 at 7:04 PM

      Sorry about the mom duck but love the feistiness of the Killdeer. Yes, a location can hit a wrong note but I love it when the location becomes a “character” of the story. Thanks, Peggy!

  4. Jennifer

    June 4, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    Researching locations that I’ve never been is always fun for me. It sparks my creativity too.

    • Judith Keim

      June 4, 2013 at 7:04 PM

      Yes, it would be so fun to have a whole series in exotic places that you just “Had” to visit!

  5. Lynn Mapp

    June 4, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    Did you ever notice how many books are set where the RWA conference was? I think people do their research while at conference. Location is always an issue for me. I tend to set my books in Boise.

    • Judith Keim

      June 4, 2013 at 7:05 PM

      There’s nothing wrong with Boise!! 🙂 Seriously, they tell you to write about what you know, right? Thanks…

  6. maryvine

    June 4, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    I like castles and Ireland, Scotland. I like NE Oregon and set 3 of my stories there and now have started a fourth in that area.

    • Judith Keim

      June 4, 2013 at 7:06 PM

      I would think NE Oregon would be an interesting setting for people around the country. Good luck on your 4th book, Mary!

  7. Corina Mallory

    June 4, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    I love reading books set in locations I know well. Sometimes because it’s fun to revisit places I love through fiction, and sometimes so I can scoff and say “that character would NEVER live in that neighborhood!” It gives me an extra entry point into the story. Of course, I also love reading books set in places I’d love to know well (like England).

    I also like setting my stories in places I’m very familiar with. Someday maybe I’ll feel the itch to write about a place I’ve never been, but it just feels easier for me to create a story and characters if I don’t have to worry about the larger details of setting as well.

    • Judith Keim

      June 4, 2013 at 7:07 PM

      You’re right, Corina! If you know an area well you can add little touches that a “visitor” or a “researcher” might never know! Good thought.

  8. stephanieberget

    June 4, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    I love this post, Judy. We had a meadow lark build a nest in our rain gutter and attack anyone who dared to come to the front door. Boy were we glad when she changed locations. We had to escort out guests out with a badminton racket to keep them safe.

  9. Judith Keim

    June 4, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    Love this, Stephanie! So far the mother bird has adjusted to infrequent visitors. When she and her three babies finally leave, though, we’re going to have to scrub that whole part of the porch. But the babies are so cute, we don’t care! Thanks

  10. marsharwest

    June 4, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    Fun post, Judith. I’m taking a peak out of my line editing cave. Location is everything to me. I start there rather than character or problem. My bird story is cool, I think. When my mother lived in a retirement community, she had a fake plant on her patio. A dove came and made her nest there. For three years, the dove came and had her babies there. We thought it was pretty remarkable.

    • Judith Keim

      June 5, 2013 at 9:36 AM

      Marsha, I love your dove story. That is so dear…Interesting that you start with a location. Are they ones you know? Or ones you’d like to visit?

  11. marymarvella

    June 5, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    If we’re telling bird stories, A nest in my outdoor grill kept me from grilling for months! I didn’t have the heart to disturb the nest. I am such a wuss!

    • Judith Keim

      June 5, 2013 at 3:22 PM

      Mary, That sounds just like you and I wouldn’t call you a wuss, but a tender-hearted soul!


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