When you are looking for a new home, it’s very true that “location” should be one of the most vital elements on your shopping list. Pick a lovely house in a poor location, and you will probably move on again within a short space of time.
The same can be said for novel writing; set your exciting, gripping and fast-paced story in a poor or unconvincing location and your readers too, will probably move on within a short space of time.
So what makes a great location for a novel? There’s no easy answer, but I believe you will never write about your locations convincingly if you have never visited them. You need to write from knowledge – you need to have walked the streets, driven the lanes, climbed the hills and crossed the rivers, so that your perspective is written from a position of personal experience.
No amount of YouTube videos about the Grand Canyon, Dubai or anywhere else, will enable you to write in a way that takes your readers with you down every nook and cranny.
In Legitimate Targets, I wrote about areas of North Essex that I know well. When the action moved to Eastern France, I spent a week there, and the things I saw and the places I visited, enabled me incorporate them into the storyline from a position of strength.
Of course, not everyone can get out to visit their planned locations, but there’s nothing to stop you from writing about places you’ve already been. If you’ve visited some exciting and interesting places in the past, why not consider using them in your novel?
Writing about places you know, will evoke memories of sights, sounds and smells for you – all great fodder for setting the scene.
Whilst the second Jake Sullivan novel, “Ascension Day,” is set entirely in North Essex, the third novel, “Diamond Heat,” will see Jake and Rachel on honeymoon in Dubai. Why Dubai? Because it’s an edgy, rich, flamboyant, millionaire playground location… and… I’ve been there several times! Write from knowledge – from a position of strength.
Of course, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t set your novel in some far-flung corner of the world, and then use that as a very good excuse for a long-haul holiday… purely for research purposes of course!