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Weekly Writing Challenge: Make Your Settings More Authentic

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on September 16, 2007 in Writers' Resources
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This week's writing challenge is for fiction writers, and aimed to help you create more authentic settings for your stories, using a free and easily-accessible tool.

My "guy" and I have been thinking about buying a house this coming Spring. Because of that, we've been keeping our eye on the market pretty closely. We're also both interested in older houses with character as opposed to the cookie-cutter variety, and as such, I was doing some research today on old houses along the east coast to get a feel for that area of the market in a few specific locations.

While looking through some of the listings, I realized that these real estate listing sites could be an extremely valuable resource for fiction writers looking to improve their settings.

So this week, if you're thinking about starting a new fictional work or just want to brush up your setting descriptions with a bit of authentic detail, take a look at real estate listings (for newer buildings and properties just use a general site like Remax.com; for something older go with a site like OldHouses.com; for something regional, look for a regional real estate agent's site).

Why are these sites so great for writers:

  • You can get a general feel for different building styles
  • You can often view further graphic details from interior photos or tours
  • They let you see things you may otherwise not be able to research first hand (ex a $10 million estate)
  • The descriptions often tell you a little bit about original details, for older buildings
  • Real estate sites often help you research nearby locations (great if you're researching a town)
  • These sites will usually have not only homes, but also other types of property available for you to browse, from office buildings to barns to old churches
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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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