Love Inspired Writing Tips: Creating a Sense of Place
Where Can a Good Romance Story Take You?
Love Inspired Authors Share Tips for Creating a Strong Sense of Place
A great read can take you away from your surroundings and transport you to a whole new place, even somewhere you’ve never been before! We asked Love Inspired authors to share a sneak peek at the places they visit in their minds when creating the heartwarming stories that capture readers’ imaginations.
Take a page from childhood daydreams
“For my shorter inspirational romances with Love Inspired, I like writing about small Midwestern communities. I grew up in Ohio and spent a lot of hours in the back seat of the family car, wondering who lived in the small towns and on the farms we passed on the way to visit relatives. When I create a small town in Ohio, ideas really flow, and I think it’s because of that backlog of childhood daydreams.” —Lee Tobin McClain, author of The Secret Christmas Child and Low Country Christmas
Visit a community your characters call home
“Many of my stories are set in northern Indiana, especially Shipshewana, Middlebury and Goshen. These are the first Amish communities that I visited nearly 10 years ago when I began writing Amish fiction. I’ve made friends there, both Amish and Englisch, and when I go back, it’s like visiting a place where I once lived. I haven’t lived there, but my characters have. A place can hold special memories and endless story ideas; for me that place is northern Indiana.” —Vannetta Chapman, author of The Amish Christmas Matchmaker
“Setting is vital because what the characters face in that environment will have an impact on who they are and what they want in their lives. I have two ways of choosing a setting: either I have been there or I want to go there. The setting for the Amish Spinsters Club series was unique for me because it was set in the small northern New York town where I grew up. The town in the book is an amalgamation of the town of my childhood and the town as it exists today. If a reader were to use the books as a street map, they’d recognize many of the buildings in the stories.” —Jo Ann Brown, author of An Amish Christmas Promise
Find a place that brings you joy
“The ocean is so vast and soothing, and such a peaceful setting puts me in a vacation frame of mind. For my longer sweet romances with HQN, I tend toward coastal settings. The Safe Haven series is set in a small beach community in South Carolina, and I loved the sights, smells and sounds of the region when I did my research. I also loved the food—and there is plenty of delicious Southern cuisine in the Low Country books! In 2020, I have a new trilogy coming out that’s set on the Jersey Shore. Again—really fun to research!” —Lee Tobin McClain, author of The Secret Christmas Child and Low Country Christmas
“I’ve written a couple of stories set in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and I am super excited to start a new set of stories in fictional Whispering Pines, Colorado, somewhere near Conifer. I love the beauty of Colorado and there’s nothing I like better than going on a horseback trail ride, so writing stories there will be a true joy for me.” —Deb Kastner, author of Her Forgotten Cowboy
Walk a mile in your characters’ shoes, even in a place you’ve never been!
“Reading travelogues and blogs on various places around the globe has made writing about settings that I haven’t actually visited much more vivid. In fact, I wrote a book in 2010, Treasure Creek Dad, where the heroine leads the hero and others on a hiking trip through the Yukon. Though I’d found information on travel sites, there wasn’t anything about what it was like on a day-to-day basis hiking through the area. I was frustrated until I stumbled across an online journal about exactly that! It was everything I needed to know with pictures, too! I was able to read the journal to know what my characters would see and what the terrain was like, which allowed me to add realism to my characters’ journey. I loved that book and it made me want to take the same hike. I haven’t yet, but it’s still on my list of must do’s. Though I will say visiting places that I’m writing about is still one of my favorite parts of the writing process!” —Terri Reed, author of Secret Mountain Hideout
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