|Posted on October 24, 2019 at 5:45 PM|
People will tell you that the setting of a book is one of the most important details to have and they would be right. Authors want to make sure the setting is just right, the perfect place to tell their story. Readers want to experience a setting that is so vivid and extraordinary it's as though they are there themselves. However, one thing we don't really think much about are books that are set in one place and one place only. I'm not talking about one city, state, country, or world I'm talking about one sole building, house, warehouse, factory, etc.
Have you ever considered it? Have you ever thought that your favorite book may be set in one spot for the entire book? Don't worry I have plenty of examples but I'm sure you're wondering why. Why does it matter? Well, it does and it doesn't. It doesn't really matter if a book is set in one spot until it does. Before we go over the examples and reason why this matters lets state the obvious, if an author can write a great book solely in one place then they are not only talented but settings aren't an issue for them.
So why does it matter if a book is set in one spot? Well, have you ever noticed? If a book is truly mind-blowing and gripping then chances are you didn't even notice that it's set in one place. The truth is it doesn't matter because in all seriousness who cares? It doesn't matter if a book is set in one spot but the simple fact that there are many just shows you the dimensions of writing that the author took and setting while important was so great that it didn't need to be all over the place. Several of Stephen King's books are set in one place such as The Shining, The Green Mile, and Cujo just to name a few. Some other books set in one place are The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, Last Night At The Lobster, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, The Mezzanine by Nicholas Baker again just to name a few. I'm sure there are countless books with a lone setting but it just demonstrates that a great story can take place in either five, ten or just one as it doesn't matter.
From a horror and crime standpoint, I believe books set in one place are important and necessary. This is usually because a person or group of people are either trapped in a haunted building of some sort with the goal of trying to get out or they have been kidnapped or held against their will in a spot and must survive to escape. As readers, we love these books and it just goes to show you that one spot doesn't matter because what's happening inside that one spot is what truly matters. Horror books countlessly are written with people trapped in haunted houses, factories, cemeteries, asylums, hospitals, hotels, prisons, among many more. Crime books usually have people kidnapped, trapped or held up in small dirty basements, motel rooms, banks, houses again just to name a few. While these places are typical settings and lone settings it's the details around the place and what's set inside them that truly make the book great or not.
As an author, I too have set books in one sole place. My western horror was set in a town so that doesn't count but my crime thriller Opium Warfare was set in Shanghai and more particularly one specific district(doing research really helps!). Finally, The Wax Factory is solely based in the factory with only a flashback set in a college and the things the characters go through in the factory are pretty crazy. When I write about setting I don't think of how many places my book is set I just think of what I want it to be about, who I want in it to experience everything and sure I have a where but if I want to put branches off of that "where" then I will.
So what do I want you to take from this post? Well for one I'm sure you'll be a lot more observant of how many places a book is set in but in all honesty, I want you to just consider that if it's five or just one that a book will be great regardless. The setting will likely not be the reason if you don't like a book and if it is well...I don't know I guess maybe it does matter to some or that the author needs to work on their setting game.