Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What's Your Writing Setting?

So....settings in mysteries. Wow, my fellow detectives have covered it all! It's always a little intimidating going last on these themes. First of all, I already feel a little like a fraud blogging about how to write mysteries because it's kind of mystery to me, but second, all the great topics have been taken! Like...Setting as Character, Being There Even If You Aren't, Settings in Middle-Grade Mysteries, Finding Your Way Through an Alien Landscape, and How Sashimi Led to My Novel's Setting.

Yeah, I was going to write all those. :-)

So what's left? Well, I started thinking about my own setting. You know, where I do my writing. You always read about how writers have rituals and routines to get in the mood for writing. A lot of these center around where they write. So I asked my fellow detectives to share a little about their own writing settings. And here's what they had to say:

Diana Renn: Here's the writing corner in my office.

I don't usually have the crime scene tape up -- it's something I was measuring for a promotional thing I'm doing with my publisher -- but sadly, it doesn't look so out of place in that disaster. I'd probably welcome a hard hat too. I write surrounded by cascading piles of paper and books. What you see here are projects (marketing, researching, drafting) all converging on each other. This space is actually clean compared to when I was into heavy revisions on Tokyo Heist last year -- then, for months,I had graphs, charts, and an enormous white board calendar all over the walls. Once a year I do a huge paperwork purge, and I can see I'm getting to that point. Because of the inherent dangers here, I've taken to fleeing the scene, writing in my local library or otherwise on the run.

Talia Vance: My favorite spot to write is the corner of my couch, complete with a cozy blanket and the Saint Bernard of Doom, Huckleberry.  There is even  a Saint Bernard in Spies and Prejudice that was inspired by him.

And here's Elisa Ludwig's writing setting: 

As for mine, well, behold:

I have an awesome office. I can say that because I had absolutely nothing to do with creating it. My husband did it all. Last summer, we were remodeling our bedroom and the wallpaper--oh, the wallpaper!--was taking FOR-EV-ER to remove. Finally, I took our sons to visit my brother and his family so that my husband could finish up the project in peace. Well, three days later, I came home to not only a redone bedroom, but a completely new office! New paint, new hardwood floor, new ceiling fan. And the best part of the story? When I asked him how he knew what colors I wanted, he said that he was standing in the hardware store with a handful of paint chips, trying to decide, when he realized that one was called "Storyteller."


Unfortunately, it only looked like the photo for about a day. My office usually more closely resembles Diana's, with piles of papers and books. And more often than not, an extra kid or two, as well. Here's a more typical setting for my writing.

Still my office, but, yeah. That's my novel revision on my laptop--and that's a kid practicing percussion six inches from my elbow. PERCUSSION. Luckily, I work in an elementary school and have nerves of steel. And headphones.

So what about you? Where do your mysteries unfold? Do you have a special spot to write? Tell us about it in the comments.


W.H. Beck is an elementary school librarian by day and a middle grade author by night (or sometimes, really early mornings). Her first novel, MALCOLM AT MIDNIGHT, stars classroom pets at midnight and is available in September from Houghton Mifflin.


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