Think Outside the Castle

Aliens invade Liverpool building?

When considering the setting for your story you turn to atmosphere. What mood do you want to give your work? If you require a spooky setting, you may be inclined to set your story in an environment that most would find unnerving such as a disused factory, an isolated house, a museum at night etc… If your novel is a romance, then perhaps an elegant European hotel on a lake might do the trick. Although….

Challenging Your Readers’ Preconceptions

…You could think about capturing your reader’s imagination by turning settings on their head. In Alex Garland’s book, The Beach, he took a paradisiacal environment and made it a hellish place, as did William Golding in Lord of the Flies.

Likewise, you could take a grim, poor council estate riddled with crime and drugs and set a love story there. Endear its readers by accentuating the positives in the ugly setting (sense of community spirit, humour etc…).

Surprise and challenge your readers’ preconceptions, it will make for a memorable tale. Why not take a suburban house and people it with elves to create a Fantasy novel. What about an action thriller set around the world of chess? Or yoga? Horror often works all the better when set in a mundane, everyday location rather than Dracula’s Castle. Think outside that castle.

A Family of Trolls Move to Amagansett, East Hampton?

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About suehealy

Literary Manager at the Finborough Theatre and associate lecturer in playwriting at the universities of Lincoln and Portsmouth, Irish playwright Sue Healy has a PhD in modern theatre history. Her most recent stage play Imaginationship (2018) recently enjoyed a sell-out, extended run at the Finborough Theatre and is headed to the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough in August. Cow (2017) was staged at the Etcetera Theatre and Brazen (2016) ran at the King’s Head, funded by Arts Council England. Her work has been performed at the Criterion, Hackney Attic, Claremorris Festival (New Writing Award winner), Brighton Festival (the Sussex Playwrights’ Award Winner) and Sterts Theatre and has been developed by the Abbey Theatre, Dublin and support by the Peggy Ramsay Award. Her nine radio-plays have broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (Opening Lines winner), WLRfm and KCLR96fm. She has won prizes for her prose including the Molly Keane and HISSAC Awards and the Escalator Prize. A UEA Creative Writing MA alumna, Sue spent eleven years in Budapest editing Hungary A.M. Sue also tutors Creative Writing at CityLit. View all posts by suehealy

2 responses to “Think Outside the Castle

  • NK

    I don’t think they allow trolls in the Hamptons ;o)

    Thank you for the succinct advice on setting. I struggle so much with character and setting that I’m convinced I’ll never produce decent fiction. But, with advice like this it makes me want to keep trying.

    • suehealy

      Hi Nancy, thanks for the comment! Re the trolls: ah, but you could sneak ’em in at night. Glad you find the tips useful. I did when they were passed to me. It’s a hard game but persistence does pay off (well, so I keep telling myself).

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