The Power of Place In Writing Visionary Fiction – Jodine Turner

Editor’s Note: We are posting this repeat of one of our readers’ most commented upon articles, with some new additions. We invite you to share your thoughts and continue the discussion!


Have you ever thought about the power of place, of setting, in writing your Visionary Fiction novel?

In The Writer’s Chronicle, (Vol. 51, Oct-Nov, 2018), Sarah Van Arsdale explains that “…setting allows the story to evolve, and creates the atmosphere that allows characters to behave as they will, which in turn gives a story its emotion propulsion.” She goes on to point out that a well-crafted description of setting immerses the reader in a physical way, engaging their bodies. The reader feels the humidity of a tropical paradise; smells the damp leaf mold of an old forest; tastes the honey sweet promise of ripened apples in an apple orchard.

Despite Van Arsdale’s compelling definition, the setting in many novels, while described, is often nonspecific. Meaning that, while setting itself is crucial, the specificity of the setting is oftentimes not fleshed out. Is this important? The high school romance between Bella and Edward in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight could have begun in any modern high school cafeteria. Dan Millman’s Visionary Fiction novel, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, could have been set in any gas station, and in any university town, and still retain the thrust of the story.

Harper Lee, author of the classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, said in a 1961 interview, “People will be people anywhere you put them.” She set her story in a nonspecific, generic Southern town she named Maycomb. The story could have taken place anywhere in the South during the early 1930’s. But what was important, and more specific, was that it was indeed set in the South. And the … Continue reading

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