Making Your Story Believable with a Real Setting

Writers in the Storm welcomes back NYT Best Selling Author Kat Martin, who shares her magic to MAKING YOUR STORY BELIEVABLE by setting the location in a real place.

In her latest book cover below, you can see the setting of Against the Edge. (Click the book title to watch the trailer and read an excerpt.)

Kat is donating her latest book to one of our readers who comments on this post.  We’ll announce the lucky winner next Monday, April 29.

by Kat Martin

One of the best ways to make your story believable is to use real places to locate the action and the real names of restaurants and streets.  Actually going there, of course, is the best way to make that happen.  Or using places you went to at some other time in your life.

In AGAINST THE EDGE, the hero, Ben Slocum, who also appeared in AGAINST THE SUN and AGAINST THE ODDS, lives and works in Houston.  Originally, I chose that location because my husband and I lived in Houston for several months.  I got to know my way around, know the restaurants and shopping, became familiar with the atmosphere of the city.  Which is amazingly small-town, considering the population.

I felt comfortable there and when I spread open my AAA Auto Club map back in Montana and started to write, the street names were all familiar, the parks and airports, stirring memories of places we had been.

I truly believe there are locations you can’t write about without being there.  For me that was Europe.  Until I actually traveled overseas, I couldn’t image cities and towns that went that far back in time.

Paris, London, Amsterdam, and the rural communities in European countries are the sorts of places you really need to visit in order to understand the way people in those areas live.  China, Russia, India–places I’ve never been–have personalities of their own and seeing them is about the only way you can get it.

Another possibility is to choose an area that fits your story and you can relate to.  Any of the mountain states are easy for me since I live in Montana.  I’m in Los Angeles a lot, thus my next book, AGAINST THE MARK, Ty Brodie’s story, uses that setting.

By the way, one of an author’s greatest tools is Google Earth.  In AGAINST THE EDGE, when Ben and Claire travel from Los Angeles to the bayou county of Louisiana, being able to go there over the Internet, to actually zoom down into the swamp, was incredible.

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