Writing: Novel Backdrop

Writing “where” you know is an important detail that brings the reader to a story with ease.

When I read a book that takes me to Paris or “the hood” I want to feel as though I’m there. I’m not interested in wondering if the backdrop is true. It takes away from my reading experience when my mind wonders whether the writer has ever been there.

When one agent read my manuscript she was disappointed it wasn’t about more Park Slope. There are interesting details of its ghetto-like appeal in the late sixties and seventies but my novel is not a historical one. It doesn’t have lengthy paragraphs detailing cobblestone streets, filthy gutters or finely etched engravings or even of stark grafitti on limestone walls. So far my writing has not entailed that type of environmental description.

Being true to Park Slope in the seventies brings the croons of Hector Lavoe, Salsa sensation extraordinaire. The visuals include the sights of flowing white curtains escaped from old brownstone apartment windows. The ever present Tony, a marginal character, who sells loosies at the front door as he leers at Julia, the protagonist, allows a native of the area to take a breath and smile knowing I’ve been true to the neighborhood.

Sometimes the embedded details within the details go a much longer way than a treatise on an area. Write what you know in your heart and it will take you far. If you choose to write about a place you’ve never been, do yourself and your readers a favor and spend some time at the place you’ve chosen to write about. But remember describing a place that you’ve researched on the Internet will be far different than a place that flows through your veins.

How have you treated the ” where” in your writing?”

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