Monday, October 4, 2010


by Karen Cino

There’s more to a novel than plotting. I found that another hidden element is the setting. I’ve been playing around with different settings, and after spending time without coming up with anything feasible, I reverted back to my old standby…the boardwalk. Now I know by now that you are all tired of hearing me talk about the inspiration I get every time I go walking, but I have to share another story with you.

It started a few years ago, one August, when a friend of mine kept after me everyday about starting my outline for NaNoWriMo in November. I always put her off and waited until the two weeks before NaNo to get an outline down on paper. This year, I decided to take her advice and start a little bit earlier. So, this is how I prioritize my novel:

1. Purple composition notebook: Purple is mystical and one of my favorite colors.

2. Title: I can’t work on a manuscript unless I have a working title.

3. The first sentence: I need to have the first sentence before I can start writing an outline.

4. Characters: I have to have my character sketches done.

5. Setting: I need to have a picture of where my characters will live and visit.

Setting. This is where my walk comes into play.

This picture inspired me like no other. Just looking at it, I have already found one of the places my hero and heroine will meet and share their first kiss. Isn’t that picture a beauty? (Talk about the best things in life being free.) For me, where the hero and heroine meet and share their first kiss is important. I have to feel it, see it and capture the beauty in a picture. Here are a couple of other pictures:

My secret has now been revealed. Not only do I get my morning walk, exercise and a daily dose of inspiration, but I get my props for a memorable setting.♥

Karen Cino is President of the RWA New York City Chapter. She keeps her muse alive by walking every morning down at the South Beach Boardwalk in Staten Island. Currently, she is shopping for a home for her novels, ROSES and MYSTICAL WONDERS and is working on her next novel.


  1. Talk about your romantic settings! How can you not get inspired by these places. I find New York City in general a very inspirational place for writers, just walking down the street gives me all kind of ideas! If you are writing a medieval, what better place that the Cloisters. I write about late nineteenth century New York "Gilded Age" and just walking around the Upper East Side and gazing at all the mansions gets my muse in the mood!

  2. There's a song and a variation is... a picture can HELP paint a thousand words. These are great shots. I think I need to take a few of the sun setting over the ocean on my end here, also quite inspiring.

  3. So true, Karen. Setting is a powerful tool to "set" the mood for your book. And actually being in the place can be more inspiring than looking at the picture. My trip to Italy in '02 (when I was in the midst of an early draft of my Italian-set romance novel) did inspire at least one scene. Of course, not everyone can afford to go to Italy, but there are plenty of beautiful places a lot closer to home. Just look around you! (Or if you live in an ugly neighborhood, go to a museum and look at the lovely paintings!) :)