Do you ever read a book or see a movie and want to be there? I don’t mean in the midst of the storyline or entangled in the drama of the characters. I mean, do you read a description or see a sweeping vista and lose track of the story for a moment because you’re so caught up by the setting?
Often, when I read a novel, I find myself skipping over grandiose descriptions of a setting, unless it feels integral to the story. Often, it doesn’t. The same as descriptions of clothing, or what someone is eating – unless it’s a supernatural story and the meal is some unwilling victim. 😉 In the movies, the setting is more obvious and noticeable and I am more inclined to be swept away by something I see in a movie. In either case, sometimes, I come across a setting that I haven’t before and I find I want to visit that place.
Of course, my travel experiences are pretty limited. I’ve been to several places in my native country, of course. I’ve been to a few spots in the US as well, but I’ve never ventured beyond North America.
Let’s see if I can remember some settings from movies and books I’ve seen or read. There’s the big blockbusters, like The Lord of the Rings series. How beautiful were those settings? I know I’m not the only one who wants to visit New Zealand because of the way it was shown in the movies. Of course, I understand it won’t look like Middle Earth when I go there. 🙂 All the same, it seems like a lovely place to go.
My favorite movie, Anna and the King, takes place in Siam (Thailand now, obviously) but as far as I know, that movie was not filmed there. The same goes for movies like Legends of the Fall or the Twilight series. Lucky for me, they were filmed at Canadian locales. Actually, Legends of the Fall was filmed about a 45 minute drive from where I live now. And it really is that beautiful there. 😉
In books, I read a lot of historical fiction, which is wonderful for rich, diverse settings, but how can you visit those places? Oh sure, I can read The Da Vinci Code and take a tour that would cover all the places Dan Brown described in his novel. But what about Tasha Alexander’s novels, which take place in Victorian era England and Europe? I’d love to visit some of the same places she talks about, Greece, London, Constantinople… But wait, isn’t Constantinople gone? LOL, ok, I know it’s not gone but you can’t tell me those places haven’t changed in the last 125 years.
I have recently read most of a series of novels written by Sherrilyn Kenyon, called the Dark-Hunter series. A lot of them take place in and around New Orleans. She’s very good at describing a setting in enough detail that I’m able to picture it, without being bogged down by too much description. She makes me interested in seeing the city firsthand. There’s also the Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher, that mostly take place in Chicago. He’s another write who manages to describe a place without making me want to skip those paragraphs.
I like to think I can manage to do the same thing in my own stories and novels. Often though, I’m writing about a city that I’ve never been to, like New York or Washington D.C. or Denver. I keep those descriptions purposefully vague, because I don’t know what they’re really like. In my TAITS novels, I get into a little more detail because I have been to those places. Calgary is my city and I’ve spent time in Victoria, Charlottetown and even Sarasota, Florida. I hope I can balance the feeling I’ve had from being in those places without boring the reader with unnecessary details. I don’t know if I’ve been successful, or if I’ve ever made someone want to visit a place because of what I’ve written.
Anyway, I really just wanted to let you all know that I’ll be leaving on vacation in a couple of weeks. There will be a Sunday or two when I probably won’t be posting because I’ll be enjoying some warm southern weather, a wonderful contrast to the f****** snow we’ve had here over the weekend. Seriously, what is the deal?!?! Even for Southern Alberta, that was unusual weather for yesterday. All right, enough whining from me. I hope you’re all doing well and enjoying your weekends, wherever you are. Aaah, yes, and there’s a hockey game on now. 😀
Take care and happy reading.