Los Angeles Times, Reflections

19 Aug

I spent most of my summer in Inglewood, California.  I am back in Boise.  Deep, deep sigh of contentment.  As always, arriving at the Boise airport is a magical experience.  The tension gripping my body evaporates and a sense of peace settles over me.

My travel experience made me wonder about how the setting of your story plays an important role.  Where someone lives impacts their lives.  Having a story set in Los Angeles vs. Boise would make a difference in my story.

How does setting affect your characters’ lives?

Here’s an example.  It would be unusual to live in Boise, but work in Twin Falls.  That’s an hour and a half commute.  We, Idahoans, don’t tend to work that far from home.  Now, if I lived in Los Angeles, an hour and a half commute wouldn’t be unacceptable.  Do you see how setting might impact your characters?

Let’s do one of those annoying writing exercises.  Change the location of your current WIP and see what differences that would make in your characters’ lives.  How would it change who they are?

Let me know what discoveries you are able to make about your characters through this activity.


Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Idaho


13 responses to “Los Angeles Times, Reflections

  1. Judith Keim

    August 20, 2013 at 9:34 AM

    Hi,Lynn! Glad you’re back! For me, setting becomes almost a character to a story. How a character feels and reacts to it make a large part of the story.

    • Lynn Mapp

      August 20, 2013 at 3:31 PM

      True. We really need to give the setting our full attention.

  2. Peggy Staggs

    August 20, 2013 at 10:36 AM

    Location is always a character in my books. It is so important not only to the way a character views things (Twin Falls commute…really?) Someone living in New York may not even own a car. It makes a big difference.

    • Lynn Mapp

      August 20, 2013 at 3:33 PM

      You’re right. I hadn’t given New York a thought. Jerome grew up in Chicago and didn’t learn to drive until he was an adult. There was no need for him to drive, not with the trains and bus system the area has.

  3. Janis

    August 20, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    How a character reacts in a local culture is one of the hardest traits a writer can fake. One can research geography, cost of living, origin and history, but not how the locals react. You tend to bring your sense and history into how a character reacts. FREX: I’m led to believe people in the east talk at a faster pace and tend towards impatience…a “hurry-up” factor if you will (Easterners, I said “led to believe”). So, yeah I could write those reactions…but I have no clue how someone in Davenport, Iowa might react as opposed to me in Idaho. See what I mean?

    • Lynn Mapp

      August 20, 2013 at 3:40 PM

      I do. I guess you could watch online news programs to get a feeling for the area. It’s an interesting element of the story.

  4. marsharwest

    August 20, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Hey, Lynn. I was glad to see this post today because I’ve been wondering how all of you guys are doing with the fires. I know it’s a big state with populations very spread out. (I’ve learned that from y’all.) So you might not be affected by it at all. Hope that the case.
    When I attended Rom Con this summer I asked the folks who lived there in Colorado Springs, “How do you live with the constant fire threat?” They all seemed mildly surprised at my question. Some said, “But you have tornadoes!”
    Yeah, but in my mind those are vastly different. Fires go on forever it seems (And yes, Texas had had it’s share of fires too, but they are not common.) We have short term threats (all spring, but with specific threats like of an afternoon, and we know it’s coming. The weather service does a super job tracking them now.)
    And all of this does connect to your topic, Lynn. I gotta believe folks who live with a specific threat (be they fires or tornadoes or earthquakes) develop coping mechanisms that make them different from folks who don’t deal with that. For me setting has always been a character.

    • Lynn Mapp

      August 20, 2013 at 3:38 PM

      Hello Marsha. It’s good to hear from you. You’re right. We have fires every year. I was so glad to be home. I believe I even said, “I love Boise, fires and all.”

  5. Jennifer

    August 20, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    It’s funny you should bring this up because I was just talking to someone about the difference in perspective when it comes to “how far is far”. Having lived in both Cali and Montana, I always find it interesting to hear peoples views on this topic.

  6. Lynn Mapp

    August 21, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    When I lived in California I remember measuring locations in “time.” How long did it take to get from point A to B. Someone once asked me how many miles apart were Long Beach and Los Angeles. I didn’t have a clue. I told them it was a twenty minute trip, if traffic was good.

  7. maryvine

    August 25, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    Good thoughts in your blog today-makes me think. Three of my four books are in NE Oregon, an area I love. The 4th one is NW Oregon. Both areas have forests and smaller towns. Looks like I have to be inspired by an area before I can write the story.

    • Lynn Mapp

      August 25, 2013 at 7:41 PM

      My thought is where they live spills over into their everyday lives.


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