Choosing the Setting for Your Novel

Guest Post by Author Tabby MorayA Tabby Moray2

As I was writing House Sitter in Paradise, the first novel in the Humorous Island Romance Series, Saint Lucia immediately came to mind not only because of its unparalleled beauty, but because I had an old acquaintance who was from the island. He’d tell these wonderful stories of his childhood growing up on the island and I always envied him this wonderful experience.


Fast forward to being an adult with an overactive imagination and a penchant for romance and I

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The Pitons in Saint Lucia

was penning a story smack dab in the middle of this wonderful island paradise. Mind you, I’ve never actually been there!

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The Tiny Island Paradise of Saint Lucia

All the research for all four novels was done via the internet, all the way down to using Google Maps to ensure my characters were where I wanted them to be in a given moment. I’d close my eyes and swear my toes were dipped in warm island waters, the Caribbean lapping gently at my ankles (sigh!). Below, I illustrate the steps I used to pick my beautiful island locales.


How to Chose the Setting for Your Novels
  • Choose settings based on the emotions you want to evoke in your readers. In my novels I wanted the reader to feel as though they were right there with my characters enjoying the island life.
  • Choose settings that set the pace for the novel. In Medium in Paradise, I wanted to convey more of a small town island feel as opposed to tropical, so I set the novel in St. Simon Island off the coast of Georgia.
  • Choose settings that make the reader feel like they’re not in Kansas anymore. While writing Treasure Hunter in Paradise, I wanted to feel like I was in a place that was completely foreign to me. Sounds, foods, people and language. I wanted to be out of my safe zone. So I decided a fictional locale off the coast of Africa was just the ticket. In some novels, writers achieve this through world building that takes readers into new dimensions.
  • Choose settings that create conflict. Conflict creates delicious and necessary tension for your novel. In Counselor in Paradise, the tension is created not just because the main character is on a private island and feels out of her element, but because her communication to the outside world is fully monitored. This builds tension and creates conflict simultaneously.
  • Choose settings you can realistically write. As writers we can sometimes be overly ambitious, choosing settings that we don’t have the background or research to write. This can trap us and create writers block, leaving a great manuscript gathering dust in a forgotten corner (I’ve done this!) Start by keeping settings simple and as you write more, your experience will allow you to do more.

As the day quickly approaches for the debut of my novels on February 19th, I have all the dreams and nerves of any writer.

Wish me luck and keep on writing!


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