07-14-18 Cassandra O’Leary

Monday, April 22, 2013

Overheard... while traveling

“Her stories are all about place.”

I have been looking forward to the Genre-istas May blogoversary for months. To celebrate, we are hosting International writers and sharing what makes locale so special. Those who know me will realize why I have been so excited; I love writing about place. And my most special place is Italy. It got a brief cameo in my last novel, UNTANGLING THE KNOT, and claims the entire setting for my next one. Place is so important to my writing that it is even in my tagline, Journeys Inspired by Love.

What is it about place that inspires me as a reader and a writer? It feels colorful to me, filled with food, and scenery and accents and architecture. The light is different in each location (think Picasso on the Riviera). The color of food is unique to place. I visualize the reds of pasta and wine in Italy versus the earth tones of spices in Morocco. All of these things can be used to show, rather than tell, about the place.

Of course there is also accent or language, and in this authors are cautioned to be careful. I recently read a fantastic guest post on Kristen Lamb’s blog, discussing dialogue. In it the guest, Les Edgerton, reveals the challenges of writing great dialogue. One of these pitfalls is when the words selected actually pull the reader from the story and remind them they are reading. Some examples of this are: overuse of a single word, like an endearment, using dialogue tags other than said, and overuse of a foreign language or local slang. I can recognize myself in this last one as I had to edit 40 Brilliants (said by my British hero) out of my current manuscript (and p.s. foreign language always goes in italics; just f.y.i.).

Since all of these things, and more, make up an authentic international story, May will be a great month to ask questions of our guest bloggers who might have advice on the scent of their foods, the color of their sky, the sound of their traffic and alternate words to use for describing when something is really fantastic.

Buona Fortuna,



Sarah Raplee said...

Great post, Deanne!

We hear all the time about the importance of setting, but 'place' to me means culture,community and geography. And of course, language.


deanne said...

Thanks so much Sarah... I really love that you picked this topic for the Blogoversary month. May is going to be awesome! You guys set up some amazing authors, and kicked it off with one of my fav's, Susan Buchanan. I can't wait.

Paty Jager said...

I like being able to "travel" through research when I write stories set in places I can't travel to but want to learn about and set the story there. Fun post.

deanne said...

Oh yes, Paty... plus, assuming a writer is truly writing to publish, they can frequently deduct their research travel on their taxes (note: I am not an accountant, so check with a pro:)

So, to all my author firends out there, pick a place you would love to see, and then get writing!
:) Deanne

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks, Deanne, for an interesting post and introducing "Romance Around The World".

Place is much more than setting... much more than what we see, hear, smell - there is an invisible energy that lures us in. At least the places that stick in my memory cells have had that - I can close my eyes, relax and be 'there' over and over again.

Diana Mcc. said...

I enjoy reading books set in exotic locales. Places I'd never visit except in a book. It's almost as exciting as visiting a paranormal world.

great post!

Collette Cameron said...

That's why I read...to travel places in my mind. I like lush descriptions but hate it when I have to puzzle over a weird word or a phrase in another language that I can't figure out from the context.

Don't get me wrong, I love new vocabulary but it has to be used carefully.

Robin Weaver, Author of Blue Ridge Fear said...

Hi Deanne,

Your enthusiasm is contagious. Makes me want to go somewhere. Great post.

Anonymous said...

I agree that place, when well-written, can evoke it in our mind. Though I do love reading about International destinations, I'm equally vested in a book that has a local place I haven't visited or I can learn something new about. It makes me appreciate my local environs all the more.

ElaineCharton said...

Wonderful post! Two years ago we did a family trip to Paris. I have something I an working on set in Paris. Most fun I had was doing research. One of my nieces is a writer and we would talk writing and I would ask her opinion on things. We'd drag her sisters into the conversation and just had a great time.
Unfortunately I had to put that book aside for others that were ready to be published. I have the pictures and notes ready for when I get back to it.