This past weekend I had the pleasure of going to Newport, RI to see my sister be commissioned as an officer in the Navy (woo hoo little sis!). After the festivities were over, we decided to do touristy things. And in Newport one of those touristy things are touring the mansions. I had so much fun walking around those rooms, mostly because it felt like the books I read that take place in the late 1800s (aka The Gilded Age) had come to life! The name of the house we toured was The Breakers, which was a summer home for the Vanderbilts.
An outside view
Here was the great hall
One of the many parlors
And so it all got me thinking, how important is the setting really? I think it comes down to the type of novel being written. In contemporary novels, setting is not as important (unless you’re writing about a country or area you’ve never actually been, because then there can be problems). Setting really comes into play for historical novels, gothic novels, and fantasy novels. With all of these, I think its very important that the author strives to be accurate, but there is a fine line between being accurate and giving out too much information. Nothing worse than a lost reader or a reader who just plain doesn’t care (after getting lost so many times).
A house like this is a character itself….it had 70 bedrooms! And so I ask you, how important is setting to you?