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June 12th, 2007, 04:20 PM

I'm in the middle of writing a story.

It's set in an English town in the future and is about a widower left to bring up four children. The protagonist - Robert - gets into financial problems with some local gangsters, and also has problems with social services, who want to take away his children.

I started my first draft using pen and paper. I was making good progress until Robert decided to run away with his children to Thailand. I got this feeling that something wasn't right; that the story needed to return to England.

What I did then was probably commit a grave error: I decided to halt the first draft and copy and edit what I wrote to my computer. Today I reached the part where Robert arrived in Thailand, and the same feeling returned.

Now I'm asking myself if I should keep the whole story in one setting. If I'm brutally honest I - not Robert - wanted the story to be set mostly in Thailand, for I spend several months there every winter and have a good indepth knowledge of that country. Robert has never been overseas in his life.

One more point; the novels that have most inspired me - Crime and Punishment, The Secret Agent, 1984, The Quiet American, and Madame Bovary - are all set in one location or country.

So my question is this: I've kind of forced my story to progress naturally to the point where Robert has taken his children. Should I fight through this feeling I have, or listen to my gut feeling and keep the entire story set in one location?

I'm aware there is probably no right or wrong answer to my problem, but I will consider seriously any advice I receive.

Many Thanks


James Carmack
June 12th, 2007, 09:10 PM
As the author, you have every right to exercise control over your story. Of course, most readers can spot a forced development a mile off. There's nothing wrong with having more than one setting.

The question is this: Why is Robert taking his kids to Thailand? Perhaps I'm simply out of touch, but I don't readily associate Thailand with a place you'd take your kids. Maybe I've just heard too many seedy tales of Bangkok. Regardless, is there a reason for Robert going to Thailand besides the fact that you're familiar with the place and feel you can speak about it with some measure of authority? If not, then by all means, keep him in England.

If the story and the character can justify the trip to Thailand, there's nothing to prevent a return to England later in the novel. Does Thailand have an extradition treaty with the UK? If Robert was having issues with social services, it could be determined that he kidnapped his children and a warrant gets issued for his arrest. If that doesn't happen (or if Thailand doesn't have an extradition treaty with the UK), maybe the gangsters catch him and bring him back to Pommyland to face the music.

When you've got conflicting feelings on a point, ask yourself why you're doing whatever you're doing and why you think you should be doing something else. "I know a lot about Thailand" isn't a good enugh reason to send Robert there, but neither is "The novels that inspred me are all based in one country" a good enough reason to keep him in England. What's true to the story, true to the character? Determine that and you'll know what to do.