This is my first contribution to the Write Club hosted by Skye Warren. This blog hop was created to fill the void left by Six Sentence Sunday, a weekly blog hop that ended in January. If you’re interested in participating, feel free to hop on over to the Write Club to get the deets!
This week we’re talking about settings and how it can shape and enhance your story.
If you’ve ever lost yourself between the covers of a book you know and understand that the setting plays an important role in storytelling. It prepares you for the type of people you are going to meet and the shenanigans (heh!) they may get into. Settings set the tone for the entire novel.
My stories are set in South Philly. Home of the Italian Market, South Street, and the back drop for almost all of the Rocky movies. When I began writing my first book, I think I set them in Philly and South Jersey because I was feeling a little homesick and it was a way for me to explore all my old haunts. But gradually, the setting began to shape and mold my main character Yves Santiago. You know how people from a certain region talk a certain way, like the same foods and carry a distinct sort of attitude? For example, people believe that all New Yorkers are rude (which couldn’t be further from the truth) and that all Southerners awer warm and welcoming (double negative on that). People from Philly and Jersey are know to be tough, honest and sometimes a little (or a lot) crass. Yves is all of these things. A tough urban girl who is everything I love about the city.
She has a ‘shitty little apartment’ on 8th Street. It’s on a the second floor of a classic Philadelphia rowhome and is accessed by a dank, dim stairwell that she shares with neighbors that she rarely ever sees. It’s a tiny place with a small galley kitchen, crowded with appliances, a shoebox of a living room, an equally small bedroom and a bathroom with a leaky faucet and mildewed grout. It’s the very definition of a shitty, city apartment but Yves loves it because it’s the first place she’s ever lived all on her own.
She spends a lot of time ducking in and out of the dive bars and stores on and around South Street–the Philly equivalent of New York’s Village. Her mother lives on a street a few blocks from Penns Landing and on July 4th they have a huge block party and watch the fireworks. This is the city that I remember. A bunch of tight knit neighborhoods where everybody knows everybody and their mother. I hope that comes across in the writing.
Yves Santiago’s story spans two books as of right now but the first book begins in summer. To me, it was the best season for the first book because I have so many fond memories of the city at that time of the year. A different city or a different season just wouldn’t have worked for me. I love the warmer weather and those long evenings and sultery summer nights made it the perfect time to begin a fling. Yves probably didn’t intend for it to last any longer than the warm temps but Elijah had other plans.
I’ve written no less than seven stories set in my old hometown. Only recently have I tried to set a story in the small Upstate South Carolina town I now live in and I have to admit, the setting doesn’t play a big role in the story. Writing this blog post has inspired me to go back in and layer on those little details these that make fictional stories feel real.
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