Friday, May 28, 2010


Are you stereotyping your setting? What do you think of when I say Iowa? Corn fields, right? Before I moved here that’s what I thought too. During one of our recent Harley trips I discovered there's a lot more to Iowa than flat corn fields…

Nathan, Kristin, and Angela Ackerman have some wonderful posts about the importance of setting. As a historical fiction (wannabe) writer, setting is key. The details must be right. Research is a priority. My good friend Jessica has a great post about her quest to get setting right for historical fiction she's working on.

My research comes from visiting England, digging  my way through antique shops, questioning family and friends, reading books from the time period in England (both fiction and non-fiction), and hunting on the web for more information.

How are you making sure you aren’t stereotyping your setting? Please share…

P.S. Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!


  1. I only set my books in places I know well, which means the details come through authentic and genuine. lol--that's the idea anyway. :)

  2. Sharon, I will be visiting your neck of the woods this weekend. We are leaving tomorrow instead of originally today, I was going to see if we would be able to meet up, but will be busy with cousins' activities this weekend and we now have a day less. Next time I get to Iowa, we will have to meet up!

  3. Looks like a beautiful place! Loved the conversation over at Nathan Bransford's (always love the discussions there!) and thank you so much for including my Setting Thesaurus in your post.

    Whenever I write about a place I haven't been, I research and then follow up with people who live there or have experienced the setting first hand to make sure I got it right. :)

    Have a great weekend!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  4. In my fiction, the main setting is a fictional place, but it is the combination of two places I love. I've taken real qualities from both and brought them together. The process was fun to do, drawing on fact, in a fictional way.

  5. Hi

    thanks for a lovely post! I would have said flat farm and wheat country if asked about Iowa - not having been there but I guess fed through by the media and films and tv!

    So these pics are a refreshing change to the stereotype! (Actually I'm still trying to see you all in biker gear astride a Harley!! Blimey!).

    Anyway - setting. My stories and writing so far have been set in places I am familiar with. I think it's easiest for me because it's one thing I don't have to worry about so much so I don't need to think whether I'm stereotyping it or not as I know the area/areas.

    Of course it would be different if I were writing historical fiction or whether I am setting a scene in a place I've never been to. Then I guess I would have to be very thorough with my research - if only to get the names and spelling right at least!

    I think for now I'm sticking to places I know. :-)

    Have a great weekend too!

    Take care

  6. I enjoyed this post lots, my settings are routine, but my sittings are not!

  7. Beautiful pictures. And Harley trips! How fun! I definitely try to use settings I know, too. Much easier that way.

  8. I write what I see... I write what I experience... so if it sounds like a stereotype, then so is it, but I doubt it.

    But great advice

  9. You always pose questions that really make me think Sharon!...I hope to never stereotype anything, but of course, it happens; I do try to take things on face value and not put my misconceptions or judgment in the mix...Lovely photos btw...Hope you have a fun holiday weekend.

  10. Hey kiddo, just gave you an award. Check it out.

  11. The town I use for my novels is fictious, but it is based on a real town in Minnesota. Let's just say thank goodness for Google Images. ;)

  12. Beautiful photos. I'm currently writing about a place where I used to live so it's not difficult to add lots of authenticating details. Also, I saw Stina's comment, and I agree: gotta love the Internet when you're doing research.

  13. Harley??? Man, you are going to force me to "dude!"

    The coolness is now incomprehensible.


  14. I couldn't have put it better myself, this is a very interesting post that many do not consider!

    Thanks for posting, very insightful

  15. What a great topic! It's so easy to stereotype about many things in our writing. I always get excited when the author really surprises me and dispels a stereotype so I get to learn something new!

  16. Amy--You attention to detail is evident in your work...

    Kelly--I'd love to get together...We actually went to Galena, Illinois for Saturday. It's a lovely town that's full of history.

    Angela--Thanks for dropping in. I'm looking forward to spending some more time exploring your blog.

    Joanne--My characters and adventures often stem from me combinging real and imagined people...

    Kitty--I'll be posting a photo of me geared up some time next week.

    Brian--You sit very pretty...

    Janet--Thanks! I'm glad you like the pictures. I have a bit of an addiction to taking pictures. (It drives my family crazy.)

    Jeff--I think that be called regional descriptions rather than sterotyping...

    Jacqueline--You made some great points! I hope you have a nice holiday weekend too.

    Buffy--You are so kind to me! Thank you, so much for the award...

    Stina--You are right about Google images (Google in general...), it can be very helpful. I love visiting cities websites too.

    Dawn--Thanks. I'm glad you like the photos.

    Shelley--That's me, totally living on the edge...LOL

  17. GORGEOUS pictures! Thanks for sharing.

    I don't know why I do it to myself, but I always end up writing about places I've never been. So that makes for tons of reading and research. Hopefully someday I'll actually make it to places I dream/write about.

    And to add to what you're saying, a writer friend of mine and I were talking yesterday and she was telling me how disgusted she was with a book she was reading. All because the writer talked about cardinals flying around here in our home town. The writer should have researched how we live too high up for them.

    Hope you're having a great weekend as well!

  18. Valerie--I love that you said my post was interesting...You write some seriously deep stuff on your blog!

    LiLa--I think it's easy to get stuck in a thought process. My hubby always says to remember what assume begins with...I think you have to be that when you write. Never assume you know something to be true, always check it out.


  19. Jackee--It is frustrating when you read an article with unfounded item in it, especially, when you have been there. Funnily, when I wrote my Cardinal story, I swear I saw the birds carrying worms to their babies, but Cardinals don't eat worms...They eat bugs and grubs, so it must have been a grub that I saw them feeding their babies with....

    Something that drives me nuts is when I see a typo. I make spelling errors, but when it's in print it makes my jaw drop....

  20. I Google, use calendar photos, and travel guides. I've also been known to sit in the middle of the floor at Borders or Barnes and Nobles with pen and paper in hand, flipping through books and writing descriptions.

  21. Great photos! As for researching locations, what do you think of "Street View" on Google Maps? I found it invaluable while researching addresses in New York City, but there's been lots of talk (and probably some of it well-founded) about privacy concerns.

    P.S. I gave you an award on my blog.

  22. Galena is beautiful! I've been there a few times! We also drive through it to get to Iowa! I'm glad you got to visit it!
    We had fun with the family in Oelwein. Cousins' dance recitals, graduation party and then today a memorial day event at the cemetery.
    Next time I go, we'll get together for sure!

  23. What beautiful photos! I like to set my books in places I've lived in, so I already know the settings. Research is NOT my strong point. :)

  24. Those pics are beautiful. Next time I go up to my sister's I'll have to stop and take pics from one of my favorite places...the hilly curvy blindingly green spot just north of Strawberry Point (there's a great name for a town if I ever heard one)