I would like to say that I’m sorry I missed posting last week—but I’m not!
Why? Because I was in India (Goa and Mumbai, to be exact) and I had an f-ing amazing time. It got me thinking–maybe my fictional character should go to India–maybe yours should too. Here’s why.
India Will Hit All Your Senses
The food, the clothes, the jewelry, the dancing, the weddings!! Let me tell you, India is an excellent place to obtain heightened awareness of all of your senses—great for writers!
Personally, my favorite part (not including the overall experience of attending the wedding a friend I’ve known for 17 years) was the saris because they were everywhere–rich parts, poor parts, everywhere. On an average day in India, the women don’t put on t-shirts and jeans; rather, they wear these colorful, feminine saris—no matter what their social status. It means that wherever you look, you’ll always see some beauty.
Not All Settings Are Created Equal
The trip of course made me think of the role of location in novels. I think—and I may be making this up—that the general conception is that all locales are created equal. Whether your novel takes place on a farm in Iowa, the bustling streets of Mumbai or in a fantasy world, as long as you use enough descriptive detail you’re good.
Whether that’s the general conception or not, I don’t agree. I believe that taking your reader to an amazing place is an easy way to add an attractive element to the novel. Of course an exotic setting is not necessary for a good book, but it definitely won’t hurt.
An Interesting Locale May Be Your Tipping Point
Consider this analogy—Kerry Washington has said that the only reason she got into fashion was to promote her career. She saw all these actresses getting extra attention simply because of the awesome way they dressed. Seeing that style was something in her control, she got into it and raised her profile. Of course now she says her love is pure, but being a fasionista still continues to elevate her. There isn’t an interview out there doesn’t cite her fashion sense and she has brought both her and her show, Scandal opportunities they would not have otherwise received (e.g., the Scandal-based Saks Fifth Avenue windows in NYC).
Your gorgeous, exotic or exclusive setting (be it in India or elsewhere) might have the same the effect as Kerry’s clothes. I’m not saying it will get you the role (or published as the case may be), but it can earn you some welcomed attention if you do. It could be your tipping point, if you will.
I believe this is exactly what happened in the case of Eat, Pray, Love (yes, I am aware that is memoir and not fiction but it’s the first thing that comes to mind). Sure, Elizabeth Gilbert had a great story of triumph following divorce, but come on—who doesn’t want to eat the food in Italy or experience the serenity of Bali? Talk about allowing the reader to escape! An intriguing setting can be your fashion—it may attract the reader for a reason other than your intended purpose, but, honestly, does it matter? As long as your book is good?
It’ll Be Fun to Write!
Most of my novel is set in D.C. but my characters do get to visit some fun places including NYC, Sag Harbor, Miami and Buenos Aires. Those were some of my favorite scenes to write. In my next book, someone will have to go to India!
If your character could go anywhere in the world, where would they go? Take them there!!
*Photo by FabulousFabs