Your Ideal Neighborhood

4 Feb

So I’m been trying to get working on my next novel and just having no idea what my other characters (apart from the main one) should be. Then I discovered what I was missing–write the setting that you would WANT to be in.

My next story idea is called “Death in the Age of Seitan,” which is a sci-fi story in a vegan future where a cop has to investigate a deer “murder.” Okay – I loved the premise, so I decided to set in 24th Century Canada in a small town, but then… I didn’t know who to populate it with.

It’s been too long since I lived in my hometown, so it was hard to base it on people that I grew up with, and although I could base it on people I know now, I couldn’t grab any characters that I really wanted to write about. Then I turned to Google and found an interesting article by an author named Nan Reinhardt called Creating and Maintaining a Small Town Setting and Characters in a Series.

She had a lot of really good ideas when it came to her own books–in fact, basing her small town on Madison, Indiana (which is an awesome place on the Ohio River–about an hour west of Cincinnati–I thoroughly recommend it), but what I drew from it the most was “write about the neighborhood that you’d want to be in.”

Once I read that, it suddenly made a lot more sense. Who would I enjoy the main character talking to? What kind of businesses would this post-disaster world would my protagonist go to? Who’s behind the counter? What are they hiding? I was able to sketch out a few characters without worrying. Once I get a few more done, then I might be able to tackle the outline without cringing.

Have you got some good ideas about populating your worlds? What has worked for you in the past? Share with me in the comments below!

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