Since I'm sitting on the deck looking out at a tidal slew in
, the mood and atmosphere are quite different from the one I'm used to. Here things are more relaxed, dress is more casual, and the air holds a hint of saltwater. Even the light is different. This is Central time, so TV programs start earlier; it's light at 6 a.m. and warm enough to have coffee outside then. Sometimes the Blue Angels fly over. Florida
A great blue heron has a nest next door and flies along the water, sometimes splashing down to fish. Pelicans skim the water, occasionally diving, or they come to rest on the pilings. They gather at the water's edge in small groups.
These things make a difference in a story. Research matters. We went to lunch at Hub Stacy's, a rustic wood structure on the water. Spanish moss, a tree I think is a type of magnolia, and of course the live oaks shelter the deck where we had wonderful Reuben sandwiches. The people who showed up brought their dogs, wore flip flops and shorts, and knew the waitress, so I assume they're locals. Weathered men with a white German shepherd unloaded fishing gear and stowed it in their boat. The dog was clearly familiar with the process and leapt into the boat as they backed it into the water.
If it isn't possible to visit a place you're writing about, try to find someone who lives there or who's been recently to answer questions for you.
Setting can be a strong influence on the characters and the way a plot unfolds. Weather often plays a part. When I wrote Cold Comfort, I visited
Williamsburg, McClellanville, and but there were many things I didn't know. I found someone in an online group who lived outside Washington, and helped me with traffic patterns and some of the areas I wanted to include. She told me what locals call features such as the Key bridge. Washington
Now of course I want to set something in this area, the
panhandle. It's beautiful and quite different from upstate Florida , which has its own kind of beauty. South Carolina