posted some notes about a recent conference she attended and one of the comments was that we should ground our characters in a specific place. I’ve been writing picture books for quite a while and while place is important, it is different than with a novel. With the current WIP I am thinking about place a lot. (Okay, so maybe I should have been thinking about it more on the last novel too but that was more of an internal journey.) Years ago, many, many years ago, I wrote a YA novel where place really mattered. I set it in a ficitional town near a real town that I knew well. I found that once I did that, landmarks and names wove their way into the story naturally and events unfolded correctly (and sometimes surprisingly) all because of where I set the story.

Since I’m in the thinking hard about a lot of things part of this new book I knew that the setting was important for me to know before I could really dig in and write very far. I had the title (can’t start to write without one), had the MC name (also can’t start to write without one), and I was thinking about place and the other characters in the book but nothing felt grounded in a location that seemed right for the story. Until yesterday. When Frankie ate a piece of chocolate and I knew where he got it, how it he got, and where his story would take place. I got that wonderful, hard-to-describe but physical feeling when you know something is right. From that piece of chocolate I learned where Frankie lived. I knew one of his hiding places. I knew two people who befriended him. And I learned what really happened to his little sister. There’s a lot still to learn and that will come in the writing of the story, but having this place, this perfect place for the story to take place, puts it all into prespective.

mentioned that she likes to visit the places where she sets her book and gather things to take back and remind her of that place while she is writing. I think that’s a good plan for hopefully this weekend. I need to explore the area a bit more and make sure I understand how a couple of things work. Take some pictures. And of course, eat some chocolate.