Brenda Cooper

A Sense of Place

I’m finishing up THE DOWNBELOW GIRLS this weekend so I can finally get it in the mail.  A last step was getting a sense of place into the book.  I set it in Seattle, which I live a five minute bridge ride away from in off-peak traffic.  It’s seventeen years away (set in 2025), but that’s not far enough in the future that the city will be completely different.   The final scene (and an important mid-book scene) both take place at Volunteer Park, where I’d been five or six times.  When I was drafting the book, I pulled up the satellite imagery from Google to get a bird’s eye view.  Two weekends ago I went to Volunteer Park and took pictures and added more depth of place to the middle scene.

Today, I went back to the park and sat right where I have my protagonists and their dogs playing in the story, took out my laptop, and fixed things like bad blocking and adding tiny but correct details.  That’s not to say I added tons and tons of words – it’s the climactic scene, and wouldn’t benefit from long description dumps.  But now it feels better.  Maybe I needed a sense of the place!