Today, while the house was quiet with Kelly still in Boston at the anime convention and John outside doing chores as spring gets underway, I baked a batch of tollhouse bar cookies and then sat down to create the world that will be inhabited by the characters of a new novel that's in the works. The characters are already formed from the clay of imagination but their world was rather sketchy and needed some definition and development.
Today was a good day to get that done.
Tomorrow when they ask me at work how my Easter was I'll say, oh, I made cookies and created a new world. That's what it's like to be a writer.
Sometimes a story starts with a locale or a house or a car or an event. Then the characters spring to life. Sometimes it's the characters who start clamoring to tell their story who come first and then you have to scramble to assemble their world- their locations, homes, environments, home towns, places they visit or hang out...I don't often use real locations in my stories but occasionally a fictional location will resemble a real town or area. I prefer having fictional settings that I create and populate.
I think the only novel I've written that has real places in it is Life Skills which is set in the Hampton Beach/Rye/ Exeter/Portsmouth area of New Hampshire and the characters travel into Kittery, York, Ogunquit, Wells and up to Freeport Maine. The setting of The Subtlety of Light and Shadow is the Adirondacks Lakes region but the lakes aren't real, only Saratoga and Glens Falls, New York really exist.
So, I created a little seacoast town in Maine where this novel is set, plus its history. And I had to create some new minor characters, like supporting actors and walk-on actors who perform their one thing and leave the stage. I suppose writing is like staging a production- building sets, telling a story, directing a cast- and making it all come alive in the theater of the reader's mind.