Friday, April 20, 2018

Story, Character or Setting First?

Our latest group blog is how do you establish a story, its characters, and setting?

A great topic, but Wow! How do I do all this? I’m not sure. I think it varies with stories. In Hunted, my first book in the series I was staying at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC. I was looking down from the mezzanine into the lobby with fancy floors and imagined a cowboy striding across the lobby, spurs and all with a woman watching from between the pillars. My mind started to work on a plot – why was she there? Why was she hiding to watch him? The plot seemed to come quickly – old sweethearts, witness protection, son he didn’t know about. I love Montana so I decided he’d take her back to his ranch in Montana.

So I started with setting, beginning characters and almost plot together. Then I developed each one, moved the setting to Montana, and developed the plot to kill her. and then the characters.

The second one in the series, Missing, was a little different. It was a stand-alone book set in New York. But I started with a female character who wanted to win her father’s approval and became a doctor but it didn’t work and then she wanted to escape. The rest of the plot didn’t work and then I thought – she could escape to Montana and grow, become stronger and more confident. So she became the heroine in the second book. The hero is one of the brothers, the town became more developed; so character, plot and then setting.

So what develops first, or all together, depends on what brilliant thought hits me and I start to mull it over and think about it.

I’m really curious about how the other authors do it. Off to find out.
Please join me in checking out the following authors:
Skye Taylor

Dr. Bob
A.J. Maguire
Marci Baun
Margaret Fieland
Connie Vines
Judy Copek 
Rhobin L Courtright


  1. I absolutely LOVE that first scene in the fancy hotel. I could just imagine the attention this cowboy with spurs on would draw striding through the place. All kinds of possibilities!

    1. Thanks, Skye. That was what sparked the story, the picture of a big, good-looking cowboy in boots and hat striding confidently through an elegant, expensive hotel lobby.

  2. I remember that hotel scene from Hunted! Funny how a series starts with a place you visited and then grows in different directions through thought, imagination, and writing know-how.

    1. Thanks, Rhobin. Being in a place often sparks the imagination and then as you stated - it takes off.

  3. I'm trying this again as my last comment was eaten.

    I'm with you on this topic. I struggled to define how I establish stories, characters, and settings. It's just something I do.

    That hotel scene juxtaposing the cowboy against a high-falutin' backdrop is awesome. It makes me wonder not only why the heroine is hiding, but what he's doing there.

    1. Thanks, Marci. It's hard to decide how things work together. I love your "just something I do."

  4. Beverley, I think your very first sentence is the most important one. That's intuitive, and describes your flexibility of approach. So, trust it. The rest seems to me to be an after-the fact analysis: "This is how I must have done it." This is valuable, but I am sure it varies for every story you write.

  5. Beverly, I'm amazed at how you can jump into the story without an outline. Amazing.