Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Setting and the Stage (Or your expectations)

I am dutifully reading through my RITA books this year, which means I can't really talk about what I'm reading. Which is frustrating to say the least, especially because I really started posting/blogging what I read last year in a few places and I want to pick it up again. I'm being good, though. I've read two of my eight thus far. I suspect that more will go on the cruise with me.

What I can talk about, however, is setting. I'm wondering just how much a book's setting influences reader expectation. I'm not talking about in historicals, really, either. I think we can all agree that there are certain well-known expectations for, say, a Regency or a western historical or a medieval.

I'm thinking more along the lines of a contemporary novel. If a contemporary romance is set in England, does that change what you expect out of the book? I've never been to England, despite having made a few online friends who live on that side of the pond. Most of my knowledge of How Things Are (tm) comes from brief conversations with them and, you know, the media. Television, movies, things that aren't necessarily true to life. I'm sure that influences how I read books set in London (though, to be truthful, I haven't read that many). I'm always pleasantly surprised when I "get" an "English" book.

And then I wonder about all the people reading American-set romances while they live overseas, and I wonder if it's not just as frustrating to feel like you're missing out on something by not having a shared cultural background.

And then I think too much.

What are your thoughts? :)


Diana Castilleja said...

So long as the setting fits the story...??? I'm not sure I've ever really had an issue with it not meeting expectations. I have had characters that ranked like spoiled garbage and have made a book impossible to read.

I have had a few where I wish they'd tell more, show more of the scenery to better ground me, but it's not usually a situation where it keeps me from enjoying the story.

Crystal Jordan said...

I think setting is very important, and it does effect what I expect out of a book. A book set in say Australia or England will feel different from one set in America. Also, the "feel" of a book set in Wyoming will differ from one in Los Angeles or New York. I always think about where to set my books and how that setting creates a mood for the story.

Maybe I'm over-thinking things ;-)

Tempest Knight said...

You know, if the story is well written, the setting can be set anywhere - Australia, England, Italy, Brazil, etc. - and it won't make a difference to the reader. The important thing is the conflict between the H/h.