22 February 2011

Guest Post: Author, Yvonne Prinz

Location, Location, Location
Placing Your Novel Geographically

Aspiring writers have asked me how I choose the settings for my novels, and, after pondering this question, I realize that the answer is more complicated than I’d thought because it depends a lot on the type of writer you are or wish to become.

Naturally, we can eliminate Fantasy YA from this discussion right from the get-go. In writing Fantasy you have the luxury of inventing your own setting (though I implore you not to gloss over descriptions of your setting; they’re still vitally important to the story). This is just one of the many reasons I don’t write in this genre.

I prefer existing settings, like New York for instance. Though I don’t write about New York because I have not lived there. And that brings me to my next point: I don’t think you should ever write about a place that you haven’t spent a considerable amount of time in. Trust me, it won’t fly with the readers. I’ve read many YA novels where it was abundantly clear that the writer was not familiar with the place he/she was writing about, a fatal error, in my opinion.

I think that a beginning writer might be under the impression that they couldn’t possibly write a great story that takes place in their own world when in fact the opposite is true. Being an expert on your own world, you’ve got a much better chance of writing a compelling story about your hometown than you do trying to fudge your way through a story about an Ethiopian orphan in Africa if you haven’t been there. Remember, a great story often lies in the smallest of details.

When I set out to write The Vinyl Princess, I knew that it would take place in a record store in Berkeley, CA, a smaller version of the one that my husband and I opened back in 1990 in the very same location. Describing the store and the street and even the neighborhood came easily to me. I knew it like the back of my hand. Creating characters when you know your setting well is also much easier. Again, I’ll use New York as an example: If you’re writing a novel about a neighborhood in New York, like Greenwich Village, for instance, you’ll also be all too familiar with how people talk there, how they move, and how they interact. This is essential to creating real, believable characters.

When I wrote All You Get Is Me, I spent some time on a farm in Brentwood, CA, a place similar to where I envisioned Roar’s farm might be. When I started to create characters, I based them loosely on a few of the people I’d met in the area or at least read about. I created a character named Reynaldo, an undocumented vineyard worker who eventually became a citizen and a respected winemaker. I pulled his story directly from the San Francisco Chronicle and changed his name. Roar’s house in San Francisco was set on a street I lived on myself for years. I was able to describe even the tiniest details about the neighborhood; the smells, the sounds, and even the vegetables at a produce stand in the Mission up the street and the ice cream flavors at the place Roar loves to go.

Finally, I can’t stress enough that you should also have some passion for your setting. Don’t forget, you have to live there for a very long time, so make it as interesting and multi-layered as possible for you and the reader. The less interesting a place you paint, the quicker you’ll tire of it and the harder it will be to continue to write about it.

Happy writing (and reading)!

Yvonne Prinz

Thanks so much for stopping by Yvonne! Amazing guest post, thanks for taking the time to share such great info. with us all.

Find Yvonna Online:

Facebook | Twitter | The Vinyl Princess | All You Get Is Me

Title: The Vinyl Princess
Publisher: HarperTeen, 320 Pages (December 2nd 2009)
Order here: Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository

Synopsis: Summer is here, and 16-year-old Allie, a self-professed music geek, is exactly where she wants to be: working full-time at Berkeley’s ultra-cool Bob and Bob Records. There, Allie can spend her days bantering with the street people, talking the talk with the staff, shepherding the uncool bridge-and-tunnel shoppers, all the while blissfully surrounded by music, music, music. It’s the perfect setup for her to develop her secret identity as The Vinyl Princess, author of both a brand-new zine and blog. From the safety of her favourite place on earth, Allie is poised to have it all: love, music and blogging.

Her mother, though, is actually the one getting the dates, and business at Allie’s beloved record store is becoming dangerously slow—not to mention that there have been a string of robberies in the neighbourhood. At least her blog seems to be gaining interest, one vinyl junkie at a time….

Title: All You Get Is Me
Publisher: HarperCollins, 288 Pages (December 21st 2010)
Order here: Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository

Synopsis: A summer of love, loss, and justice.

Things were complicated enough for Roar, even before her father decided to yank her out of the city and go organic. Suddenly, she’s a farm girl, albeit a reluctant one, selling figs at the farmers’ market and developing her photographs in a ramshackle shed. Caught between a troublemaking sidekick named Storm, a brooding, easy-on-the-eyes L.A. boy, and a father on a human rights crusade that challenges the fabric of the farm community, Roar is going to have to tackle it all—even with dirt under her fingernails and her hair pulled back with a rubber band meant for asparagus.

*I am not compensated at all for any of the links within this page.

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  1. That was a good post. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I read The Vinyl Princess and the setting was one of the things I loved most about this book. I felt like I could see it! Great guest post!

  3. All you get is me seems to be an interesting book! Thanks for the review!


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