Monday, June 13, 2011

MGOC Contributor: Susan Crandall

photo by Studio 16

EXCERPT from "Setting as a Character: It's More than a Backdrop" by Susan Crandall in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction

Imagine this. Scarlet O’Hara with a Brooklyn accent. The Grapes of Wrath set in contemporary northern Minnesota. The trial in To Kill a Mockingbird taking place in an urbane Chicago courtroom. Impossible you say? You’re absolutely right.

Not all fiction is so blatant in its need for a specific setting. Still, no matter what genre you write, your novel will benefit from proper setting selection and world building.

Countless hours go into developing characters and outlining plots, both of which are necessary to deliver the ultimate reading experience to your audience. But how do you choose your setting? Because you like a particular place? Because you’re familiar with the layout and the atmosphere? Do you pull it willy-nilly out of a hat?


In Susan Crandall’s first six novels are women’s fiction with an edge of mystery and suspense. Her debut novel, Back Roads, was published in 2003 and garnered numerous national awards, including Romance Writers of America’s coveted RITA for best first book and two National Reader’s Choice awards. She’s also been nominated for a Publishers Weekly Quill Award. With her seventh novel, Pitch Black, she switched to full-fledged suspense. All of her novels are published by Warner Books (now Grand Central Publishing). Susan lives in Indiana.

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