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The Importance of Setting in a Novel by Miriam Drori

It is with great joy that I welcome my friend and fellow author, Miriam Drori, to the blog today to discuss the importance of setting in novels. Welcome Miriam, Thank you for your time today, Miriam.

Thank you, Val, for inviting me to talk about the importance of setting. This is a topic I should know about, because setting is definitely important in my stories, all of which have visited places I know well: Jerusalem and other Israeli towns; Bournemouth, UK; Japan; London (Golders Green); Paris; and Venice.

Today, I’ve narrowed down this huge topic to answer two questions:

1. What comes first: the place or the story? In other words, does the place dictate the story or do I choose the place to fit the story?

2. Could the settings of my stories be changed, or would a change of setting necessarily change the whole story?

The answer to the first question is: that depends.

In the Dark London anthology from Darkstroke, for instance, all the contributing authors were required to set their short stories in London. I chose to set mine in the London suburb of Golders Green and from that place, my story, Gruesome in Golders Green, which starts with a meeting between two women who wouldn’t normally meet at all, developed.

My (currently unavailable) romance, Neither Here Nor There, began with a girl, the heroine, leaving the closed haredi community in which she was raised. Jerusalem seemed the perfect place to set that story, especially as I know it well, having lived in the city for most of my life.

The answer to the second question is: that, too, depends.

Neither Here Nor There could have been set in London or New York or anywhere with a haredi population. My cosy crime novel, Style and the Solitary, follows a man who’s unable to speak up for himself when he finds himself under arrest. It could have been set anywhere, but again I chose my adopted city of Jerusalem, weaving in descriptions of various sites so that it became a major player in the novel.

Cultivating a Fuji, on the other hand, has a setting that probably couldn’t be changed. In this novel, the protagonist, Martin, is sent by the boss of his small company in Bournemouth, UK to represent them in Japan. He seems totally unsuited to this task, but he succeeds due to the unusual traditions and nature of the Japanese. This is another story that began with place. I knew the character, but the story grew from the question: what if Martin was dropped into Japan? I once tried to rewrite a scene of this novel to set it somewhere in France. The result is here on Angela Wren’s blog. Martin would have failed miserably in France and I doubt any setting would have worked as well as Japan. Martin’s home town of Bournemouth, however, could be changed. I used a lot of imagery connected with the sea, but I’m sure that could be altered to suit even an inland location.

I hope this post has shown a little of the importance of setting. One day, I might choose to create a fictional setting for a story, and that, too, will be important.

The Author

Miriam Drori was born and brought up in London and now lives with her husband and one of three grown up children in Jerusalem.

With a degree in Maths and following careers in computer programming and technical writing, Miriam has been writing creatively since 2004. After some success with short stories, which she continues to write and which have appeared in anthologies, Miriam turned her hand to longer fictional works, publishing a romance and a historical novella, co-written with another author.

Social anxiety features in Miriam's latest publications. Social Anxiety Revealed is a non-fiction guide that explores this common but little-known disorder from multiple points of view. The book has been highly recommended by ‘sufferers’ as well as professionals in this field. Cultivating a Fuji is the story of a fictional character who battles against social anxiety before learning to make friends with it. Style and the Solitary, a crime novel, asks an important question: what happens when a suspect can't stick up for himself?

When not writing, Miriam enjoys reading, hiking, dancing and touring.

The Links

Find Miriam on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads,Instagram, Bookbub, YouTube and her website

Miriam’s writing is available as follows:

· Style and the Solitary

· Social Anxiety Revealed and elsewhere

· Dark Venice

· Dark Paris

· Dark London (Vol 1)

· Appointment at 10.30

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