O'Reilly logo

Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel Revised and Expanded Edition, 2nd Edition by Sara Paretsky, Hallie Ephron

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Chapter 8

Setting

“My books begin with a place, the feeling I want to set a book there, whether it’s an empty stretch of beach or a community of people.”

—P.D. James in an interview with Salon.com

It’s been said that a vivid setting is like another main character in the novel, and sometimes it is. At the very least, your setting has to be credible and fit your story’s plot, characters, theme, and emotional tone.

Setting includes these dimensions:

  • When: year and season
  • Where: geographic locale, exteriors, and interiors
  • Context: activities and institutions that provide the primary backdrop

I began writing There Was an Old Woman with a mental image of Mina Yetner, a ninety-one-year-old woman sitting on her back porch, gazing across a salt marsh, ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required