Friday, June 27, 2014

Picturing Your Settings

Someone recently shared a YouTube video on Facebook of the demolition of my junior high school. I watched the video, fascinated, and realizing something I'd never really thought about.

All of my books are set in this school.



I picture both the inside and outside of it. When characters are driving to school or waiting for a ride, this is where they're standing.




(That's after it had fallen into decay, by the way...it looked much better back in the early 80s!)

What's freaky is that I do this without thinking about it. Every now and then I pull elements from my high school, but it was ROUND. Nobody goes to a round high school (now a middle school), and it would take away from the story to explain why characters are roaming the halls of a school that looks like this:




So I stick with what's familiar. A high school with straight hallways.




Where do you set your books?

82 comments:

  1. Did they blow up the school? Because I'd actually want to watch that.
    Little odd to think the place you're describing no longer exists.
    And our school had straight hallways, so that probably is universal. But your was unique - that's cool.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is sad that your school is gone. I was actually thinking about writing a post about childhood places that no longer exist.

    Have a good weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Alex, it's funny you say that--I'd always heard they put a call out to Hollywood to blow it up. I'm not sure if that's true or not, but Hollywood wasn't interested, I guess. There's a video of the demolition but it's an hour long and it's more of a before and after thing, so not nearly as exciting as it sounds.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3wip7R67wE

    ReplyDelete
  4. Bijoux, I can't help but think of that scene in Gross Pointe Blank where he goes home to find out his childhood house is now a convenience store. "You can never go home again, but I guess you can shop there."

    ReplyDelete
  5. When I write short stories for myself... they are set with memories from my past... so I can understand why you'd write about where you know ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. did the students rejoice in the desctruction of the school? :) It is usually what pupils dream of LOL

    ReplyDelete
  7. Probably, Dezmond. By then I was busy working, so I didn't even know it was happening. Those were the pre-Facebook days, so there was no way to really get the word out to everyone that they were demolishing the school. I heard about it after the fact. There's a whole FB page dedicated to the memory of that school, though. It was a high school before it was a jr. high, so it goes WAY back.

    ReplyDelete
  8. that's neat to have a 'go-to' site in your mind. :) guess it's like dreams where you return to a familiar place, like a former home or school, too.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think this is fascinating! It holds true to the notion that we write what we know or have experience with...whether we have seen it played out in our lives or on television. Somewhere we have visited that place and become familiar and it goes into our writer's toolbox of ideas. What an empty feeling to know your school is gone. I felt that way when the house I grew up in was demolished to make way for a new drugstore.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The high school is still there...as is the elementary school. I think I feel better knowing that I haven't set foot in either of those since childhood. I wouldn't have visited the junior high again, either. I guess we just take comfort in knowing we CAN visit those places if we want!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Although I seem to be writing a book that will never be finished I find myself picturing where I wish I lived rather than where I do live. I guess its more about getting out of my element to me.

    ReplyDelete
  12. My grade school and high school are still there and I graduated high school in 1969.

    They spent $150,000 to tear the school down? Wow.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've set two books in LA.

    The next book I'm writing is set in Wyoming.

    ReplyDelete
  14. haha I'd love to see mine go boom, that would be great.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I can totally relate. All my books are set in my hometown, and if there's a house, it's usually my childhood home--the layout is always the same.

    I'm not a fantasy writer who creates entire new worlds from scratch, so it's easier that way.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Yes, straight hall, usually with lockers lining the walls. Unfortunately, a lot schools don't have lockers anymore. Too dangerous. Hope all schools don't remove them. I have several scenes with lockers involved and that's going to date the books. Hard to keep up with the changes as a writer.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I tend to set my books in my old school as well. Or my old house. Or the small town I grew up in. Or... You get the idea ;)

    ReplyDelete
  18. At least your Junior High is still standing in your books. I'm sure your classmates will enjoy reading your books and remember the old school.

    Have a wonderful weekend Stephanie.
    Hugs,
    JB

    ReplyDelete
  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I set my books in schools that resemble my old school. Though I add many buildings to it, the basic structure resembles my school, as do a few teachers and the morning assembly.

    ReplyDelete
  21. My books are at my mother's house, I hope she has kept them all... So a nice post!

    xoxo
    www.bellezzefelici.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  22. It's sad when a place you're so familiar with, is torn down. I think it's cool though, that you're using it as a setting in a book.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I set most of my short stories out at sea or in some fantasy world, but my novel is set at various places in my town of Tallahassee. I'm thinking I want to change that and make it a place I'm less familiar with, just to force myself into doing some research for the details.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Well...since my first novel is still in my head...that's where it's set. I wish I had the tenacity to write it.

    In my vivid imagination...when I am developing characters/places...I have every detail in place, but they are not places familiar to me. Again...just in my head.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I generally base my fictional places on real-life places. It helps me visualize them when describing them to my readers.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Why is that school round? Is it one of those dumb schools without walls? Those were in vogue for a while until everybody figured out that you couldn't hear because of all the noise from the other classes. Then those schools built walls. I usually put characters in places familiar to me, but sometimes they want to go far away, to a place I've never seen and have to imagine.

    Love,
    Janie, who would love to see a school she attended demolished

    ReplyDelete
  27. Sorry to hear they demolished your school! Wow.

    I love it that you realized how your mind created the settings without thinking about it. Even though I write nf, I must do that, too, in my settings!

    Now I have something to mull over. Thanks!
    Jen

    ReplyDelete
  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  29. My kids went to a school that has two round parts connected by long enclosed hallways. It was build in 1968.

    It's funny that you envision your books in your old high-school setting. I understand, though, because I always think of elementary school in terms of my old school.

    ReplyDelete
  30. It's impressive, our schools are so different but the pictures are like the ones in movies.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Junie--My high school was a dome--at the time it was considered a revolutionary design, but that was long ago! We had walls. It was like a typical school, but with classrooms on the outside and the gym in the center.

    The demolished school was my junior high (before the nation went to middle schools) but it was a high school in the 50s and 60s...maybe before or after a little. Not sure of the exact years on that.

    ReplyDelete
  32. My high school was bizarre shaped. It was built in the 70s with this new wave hippie vibe with no walls and all open space...until they realized that was a stupid idea and put walls up.

    So now, there are classrooms behind classrooms. Meaning, you have to walk through one classroom to get to another.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I wasn't aware of this "no-walls" trend, although in my elementary school, they had our sixth grade class protected from the room next door by one of those temporary wall things, now that I think about it. I'm not sure what those are called but they use them in meeting rooms to divide big rooms into small sometimes. This "no walls" trend of the 70s in schools reminds me of the trend in offices now where they're taking all the walls down and making employees work out in the open. They'll figure out that was a bad idea, too, but by then everyone will be working from home and nobody will be able to get anyone to take a job that requires them to come into an office every day!

    ReplyDelete
  34. It must have been strange for you to watch the setting for all your books be demolished. I often use places from my life when I am writing settings. The school in my book is made up a of combination of my middle school and the school where I currently teach. Both have straight hallways. :)

    ReplyDelete
  35. Have a great weekend and Happy Writing.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Wow, seems like it'd make me sentimental to see the destruction of a school. There's a bit of history that won't be around anymore.

    ReplyDelete

  37. I would be very sorry if they blow up my childhood school ....
    Have a great end of the week doll!!!
    http://expressyourselfbypaolalauretano.blogspot.it

    ReplyDelete
  38. I set my novels in fantasy realms that don't actually exist. Although, I am cribbing places I know to help visualize the spaces.

    Too bad about your jr. high. I haven't been anywhere near any of my old schools in a long time.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Gosh, where do I set my books? Answer: all over the place. From the American West 1881 to England in 1807 along with numerous contemporary settings like the one I'm working on now, which is set at our local high school. Not to mention all those set in places that don't exist except in my imagination...


    I wonder what my old high schools look like now.

    ReplyDelete
  40. So sad the school is no longer there, good you have it in your memory though to use as the back drop for your books!

    betty

    ReplyDelete
  41. When I write, I picture my school hallways too! And they are straight. My nephew is in one of those rounded hallways...weird...

    ReplyDelete
  42. Settings in schools. I like that idea. In fact, you make me think of my high school days when I was the high school hunk. Then I woke up :)

    My books are set in many a magical place. Sometimes even in the garden where enchantment reigns supreme.

    Have a wonderful weekend, Stephanie.

    Gary :)

    ReplyDelete
  43. I don't write, but what a cool, round school!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Believe it or not, my husband when to a round high school! :P

    Funny how things like that happen without us really realizing it.

    My junior high was taking down a few years ago as well and I never really thought about it until last year when I finally drove by the site and saw...nothing. It was sort of eerie.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Thank you for coming by my quilt blog and commenting. I'm not sure how you found me, but I am a writer as well. I only published some pieces in small publications, and have yet to publish a book. But, writing is very much a part of me. My Mom, incidentally, of Living Life on Main Street (on sidebar of my main blog A Colorful World) is in the process of self-publishing her first book. I am very proud of her!

    ReplyDelete
  46. It is so sad to see schools disappear. As for the schools I used to attend, and we are going way back, because I am 57, only one of them still exists and is still used as a school, and that is my elementary school! My high school is still there but is now a housing development.

    ReplyDelete
  47. LOL it's funny you never noticed you did this. The setting of my books are always different but I tend to use my car as all my characters cars.

    ReplyDelete
  48. That's really fascinating that you just realized that.

    ReplyDelete
  49. The middle school is neat, but I can see where that would cause problems in a story. Straight halls seem to be the norm. I wonder what they'll be building there instead.
    My books always have something to do with fields - sometimes just a tiny-itsy bit. I think it has to do with the wonderful vacations we had at my grandparents as a kid because until recently I was a pure bred city girl ;)

    ReplyDelete
  50. That's really interesting, actually! I set my books all over the place, but my problem is, I often get STUCK in the one place. Not good. >-< I like to move my characters around to different settings...I just have to remember too, lol!

    ReplyDelete
  51. I'd like to read about a round school!
    If I had school settings, they'd probably be set in my high school too. It'd be really upsetting if they demolished it!

    ReplyDelete
  52. Hey, if you email me (right of my blog or if you get this in your inbox, my email is there), I will send you the lined paper attachment that Tim made in Publisher.

    ReplyDelete
  53. This is great. I do the same thing. Not only do I picture old schools when I read, but I also picture my grandparents' old house in Tennessee for a lot of my domestic settings. I think it's a little sad that they tore down your old school, but I guess it lives on in your stories!

    ReplyDelete
  54. I've only thought of homes being round because of hurricane winds in our area...the wind circles around it and less storm damage. Hmmmm. Interesting that your high school was also round.

    I've always been told and read in several writing classes/forums that writing with a familiar surrounding is best!! You're doing good.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Fascinating Stephanie! I love that you go to that High School repeatedly for inspiration and an environmental settings. My first book follows closely in my footsteps of places I've been. The new book is set places I've never been. Go figure!

    ReplyDelete
  56. There's a high school in Shreveport that's round. I used to sub there.
    There is a scene from my novella, "Christmas on the Corner," that's set in my middle school.

    ReplyDelete
  57. A round school? That IS unusual.

    My book is set in the town where my husband and I grew up and got married, even though we moved away from there in 1971. I don't mention our old middle school, but I do mention our old high school. I guess some things from the past are destined to always stay with us.

    ReplyDelete
  58. It's great that you set your books in a place you know so intimately. My settings are all made up, even the ones I set in Egypt where I live! lol

    ReplyDelete
  59. Been there...all my characters live on Long Island. It's so hard for me to branch out of that. And for some reason I always have frozen yogurt shops in my novels! Didn't think about that till just now haha whoops!

    ReplyDelete
  60. I'm sorry they demolished your old school.

    I set my stories all over. From Florida to Ohio! ;) But a couple of YA stories I have plans to write are set in the high school I went to, too. I think most authors use what they know as inspiration. :)

    ReplyDelete
  61. I have never encountered a round school. Horseshoe yes. Sorry about your old school.

    ReplyDelete
  62. My books are set in a magical world parallel to our own.

    Sorry to hear about your school. Quite distressing really.

    ReplyDelete
  63. They just imploded my junior high school...apparently it was vacant for years due to mold. Lots of memories in those hallways :)

    ReplyDelete
  64. Im really sorry heard about your school.especiallyb cause you loved it.
    Have a nice weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  65. I still have dreams set in my own middle school building sometimes. Didn't think of it until just now but I do.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Very smart of you to stick to familiar settings. I am sure more people can relate to the book the more familiar they are.

    ReplyDelete
  67. I have used the interior layout of my high school in my books. And now that I think of it, I've even used the exterior in a book. I guess it's normal for us to default to what's familiar to us.

    ReplyDelete
  68. That school looks pretty creepy in the photos. Our schools seem a lot different here, but we did have some long straight hallways at ours too. A round school does seem a bit strange, haha.

    ReplyDelete
  69. That's got to be tough, having your high school torn done. But it lives on in your books.

    ReplyDelete
  70. I picture what I know too, it's easier that way. Though, something I'm working on is set in London, so that's a challenge.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Interesting! My favorite settings are usually homes and nature (kids being outside and roaming free!) I loved my old high school, torn down after my freshman year and I think about those creaky halls a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  72. A co-worker of mine went to high school in Forks, WA where the Twilight books are set and was totally annoyed by the descriptions of the high school because they were all wrong. Maybe Stephanie Meyer was basing her setting on her own high school :) I think I set my stories more at my son's high school than my own.

    ReplyDelete
  73. I often picture places I know when I write. Although I don't recreate them exactly it helps to take bits and then use my imagination to fill in the gaps.

    ReplyDelete
  74. Perfect timing for this blog post, Stephanie, because I just finished reading your book! I absolutely loved it and wrote reviews on Amazon, B&N, and Goodreads for you. I will be putting in a good word for you to others=)
    P.S. My elementary school was round... John H. Glenn. I went there to visit recently and I felt like a GIANT walking around in those tiny circle hallways.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Sad that the school changed, I bet if we went to our old schools now, our perception of it all has probably clouded our view...we would find it all different.

    ReplyDelete
  76. I'm not a writer,but setting your books on past memories is great. Sad they had to demolish the school.
    effortlesslady.blogspot.ca

    ReplyDelete
  77. That must have been strange, but I can relate.

    One of the old elementary schools that I attended was demolished and a new modern one was constructed. I had no idea it had happened until I read the old news stories. When looking at the new school, I was thinking "that looks nothing like I remember." Well there was a reason.

    ReplyDelete
  78. I prefer settings that I've physically been to, so most of mine are real places.

    Yvonne

    ReplyDelete
  79. Funny -- My district's high school had the exact same front entrance area, with the little covering and same square metal columns holding it up. And, yup, everyone gathered there. (Except the smokers, who gathered by their cars across the street.)
    And, oddly, there is also a round school in my area. One of the largest. I remember friends talking about how the halls were one way, so they had to go all the way around the circle in order to get to class, lockers, bathrooms, etc. Even if the next class was only one door down- if it was left instead of right, all the way around the school you must go! LOL.

    I suppose you could set it in a different type of high school, but then you'd have to describe it, and that presents problems (namely trying to describe without slowing the action, interrupting the flow, causing characters to think about that which they wouldn't normally bother to think about because it's ordinary, or using adjectives). So yes, certainly easier to go with a generic high school structure.

    (Or generic for states-with-real-weather, because movies or tv shows seem to have schools with lockers outside, and outdoor routes to classrooms. People that have never seen a foot of snow fall in under an hour, obviously.)

    ReplyDelete
  80. Hi Stephanie - that must have been a bit of a shock .. but now we seem to have round buildings ... gathering places .. still perhaps square with angles isn't so kind at times ..

    I hope you've got some shots of the school as it was to be able to remember all the aspects ...

    Though I suppose you could do a Sci Fi version .. what they did with school in 2054 .. or similar ..

    Cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete