Monday, October 8, 2012

Resemblances of Real Life Locations

Sometimes the settings in my head for fictive stories are strictly the product of my imagination, though it’s been said there’s nothing new under the sun. Other times I’m fully aware that I’ve been inspired by real life locations. In fact, I will occasionally have a place in mind where I’ve visited or have seen before via photographs that captured my attention and deepened my interest.

I recently undertook a genre swap from romantic political intrigue set in Argentina to a work of fantasy romance. Working on an eNovella series with six installments, the first soon to be published by Soul Mate Publishing, the location from which to draw inspiration for eNovella #1, Wind’s Aria, came to mind near the beginning of the venture.

Have you ever seen pictures of the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia? Or perhaps you live in the region; after all, we are a very international group here. Needless to say, it’s gorgeous—and naturally looks like a realm that belongs in a delightful fairy-tale.

As once a member of an internationally acclaimed Croatian dance ensemble, I was first introduced to the Plitvice Lakes National Park twenty years ago. It made such an impression on me that I knew someday it would stir something more, further awakening the creative aspect in my life.

So as I started writing Wind’s Aria, it dawned on me that I was painting a picture resembling this real life location that made such an imprint on me many years ago. Once I realized this, I studied the images of the Croatian lakes online, clipped out photos from magazines, and examined travel logs. I stretched the region out on my mental canvas and then began adding more of my own embellishments, such as a bridge here, a dock there, a cottage or garden, livestock, the people, form of dress and culture for a timeless generation in a literary sphere of fantasy.

One thing I noticed . . . if a touch of writer’s block hit me I only had to pull out those images of the real life region, take a deep breath while admiring the beauty, and I was on my way to plotting the story again.

What about you? In the world of fiction, in whichever genre you dwell, do you find your inspiration from real life locations, basing stories around places and settings that actually exist? How do you keep these locales fresh in your mind?

As someone who appreciates other places and cultures, and who loves the world of fiction—both as a writer and a reader—I’d love to hear about the regional resemblances in your work-in-progress stories!

Tessa is a veteran of the performing arts and worldwide missions, having come from a long line of musical arts professionals. She loved seeing the world and absorbing the beauty of other cultures . . . an enriching life full of dance, music, faith, and interesting cuisine. She’d always dreamed of becoming a romance writer, conveying words that inspire and the thrill that occurs when two destined souls meet.


  1. Hi Tessa,

    I'm a visual writer too. The setting in all of my work is some place I know, even if the details are adjusted to fit my story. You use the visuals to get over writer's block -- what a simple fix! -- and I use the visuals to get into the story. If I'm trying to think how a character would feel at a particular moment I put myself in that place, beside a lake, or out in a wheat field, or stuck in downtown traffic. The setting really grounds me in the story.

  2. Place is so important. I used a lot of places I had seen when I seen to give visual authenticity to descriptions in my novel Streets on a Map. I've used the coastal area and lake near where I live now for many poems and some children's stories. It's sure to feature in a novel one day. Maybe the next one?

  3. I like the idea of visuals/settings grounding a writer in a story, as you've mentioned, Alice.

    And, Dale, I can understand visuals giving authenticity to Streets on a Map.

    Great comments, you guys! Thanks for sharing. : )

  4. Tessa, my husband and I went to Malaysia for ministry and while there we saw an English castle in a near jungle setting. I was so intrigued I walked all around it and can still see it in my mind's eye. Anyway, I wrote a historical story about its building. And it's turned out to be a real adventure romance which is waiting in an agent's office.

  5. What a unique experience, Rita. And I'm equally intrigued by that adventure romance! Do hope it finds the perfect publishing home via the agent, so it can get into the hands of eager readers. : )