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CONVENTIONS OF SPYING > What makes a good setting for a story.

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message 1: by Samuel , Director (new)

Samuel  | 4692 comments Mod
Setting. It's one of the foundations of the political/spy/military thriller genre. When reading or writing a book, what makes you deem the setting to be good? There are many kinds:

1) Exotic: Going to places like Buenos Aires, Cairo or that much used classic, Paris. Effectiveness is due to giving readers who may have not travelled much a glimpse into those countries.

2) Geopolitical hotspots: The places which you hear about in the news. Bosnia, Lebanon, the South China Sea or the Korean Peninsula. It's effectiveness is down to people being curious and wanting to look beyond boring news reports.

3) Ordinary: Quiet places where you wouldn't expect gunfire to suddenly erupt in real life. Places like a neighbourhood, the Star Ferry in Hong Kong, the Guggenheim gallery in New York or even Hyde Park London. It's effectiveness is down to livening up ordinary places where reader's may normally go on a day to day basis.

4) Gritty: The places where you stay away from in real life and imagine sinister things happening inside. Places like a gang infested housing estate outside London, a South American slum or the canals of Bangkok. It's effectiveness is down to creating a sense of realism and a dark atmosphere.

5) Inhospitable: Very underused. The places where only the toughest protagonists can survive and civilisation stays away. Places like the North Pole, Siberia or the jungles of central Africa. It's effectiveness is down to creating unique challenges for the protagonists, spiking the readers curiosity on how they're going to end the story, alive? or dead?

This is just my interpretation. Love to hear your thoughts on what makes a good setting and factors which would make you chose a setting if you were writing a new book.

message 2: by Barry (last edited Feb 07, 2014 11:02AM) (new)

Barry Sierer | 15 comments All true. The problem is how many of the same places and plots get done and redone. (how many rogue submarine novels are there ? ). There are lots of great places for plots and intrigue that may not be very popular among readers. Case in point is Agency Rules - Never an Easy Day at the Office. The internal politics of Pakistan may not seem interesting to a lot readers in this genre, but Pakistan is actually a setting that is rich with plots and intrigue. Other good examples would be Vortex(South Africa) and Cauldron("New" Europe). Indonesia is a good spot but I would really like to see one set in Australia.

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