Putting Characters in Their Place

Putting Characters in Their Place

My first novel’s progress? I’m officially at over 60,000 words now and one scene shy of completing 13 chapters (though it is a very lengthy and significant scene for the story). Let’s toast…clink!  Yes, I’m happy to say that I crossed another milestone, 60,000 words – definitely much more pleased now then when my car crossed 60,000…about 70,000 miles ago.

I just finished writing two scenes that placed my two lead characters in an art museum, and it led me to ponder a topic or question rather that I wanted to pose to any of the authors who follow me. I know certainly on Twitter, a growing number of fellow fiction writers have recently begun following me, and I’d like very much to start a casual dialogue among us about process. There’s so much that I know I can learn from all of you, and who knows? Even though it’s my debut, perhaps not being set to follow any pre-established way of building a novel, I might share some fresh ideas that intrigue you, too.

I found myself becoming quite absorbed as I began writing my scenes in this location – and by the way, it is a REAL museum and not one that I’ve personally visited. But I was able to locate quite a few links online to rooms and pieces within the museum as well as others’ thoughts on their experience there.  I found creating the atmosphere for the characters to explore like the exterior grounds and the exhibit rooms themselves to be an aspect of telling the story that I had never really considered before.

Remember – I’m new to fiction – I’m an article and profile writer by profession, so I’m not all that concerned with building compelling sets with what I do, not to any great length, that is. This has been both exciting and challenging to adjust to. How descriptive do you go? When do you start to lose sight of your characters and focus too much on the details surrounding them?

So I wanted to ask other writers who may be reading this —

When you are placing characters in a specific and REAL location that’s relevant to the series of events happening in that scene, how do you approach creating that setting? Do you rely on a lot of online research? Insist on going to the actual site before writing the scene? Or simply build your vision of that locale in the scene completely from your imagination without any research or real-world input?

I’m just curious and would love to hear from other writers about their approach. Thanks in advance to those willing to share here in comments or at my Twitter page.

Oh, and that picture in the middle. That’s the museum where my characters spend a little quality time. If you recognize it, well, then good for you. You already know where at least a few scenes of my novel take place. If you don’t, you will. Soon. In about 6 months. 🙂

Happy reading,


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