The setting of your detective story is very important to your narrative. Where and when did the murder take place? Setting your story background has all kinds of implications on the progress of the story. For instance: if your story is set in fourteenth century Italy, you probably don’t have any equipment to examine DNA or fingerprints. Unless your detective can travel through time, which, of course is only possible if you are Doctor Who.

Your detective story is not only a story about a murder, it is also a story about interesting people, intriguing dialogue and exciting action, it is also about the scenery. For instance:

  • The Circle by Dave Eggers is set in a fictional city looking something like Silicon Valley (I think, I’ve never been to the Valley);
  • Murder on the Orient Express is set in a train, stuck in the snow in the mountains, early twentieth century;
  • The Glass & Steele series by C.J. Archer is set in London, 1890.
  • The setting for Rizzoli & Isles by Tess Gerritsen is current day Boston.

A city offers a completely different environment then a forest or a sea, with all kinds of different, and thrilling, possibilities to occur in your story. There’s a pretty extensive list on places where stories take place on Libarything.com. Head on over there if you’re interested.

What setting will you choose?

That depends. Where do you want your story to take place? It can be situated in your hometown, or country. It can be somewhere you have been before. You can set your detective story on the fictional planet UJ336X if you wish. You decide!

If you write about a place that exists, it should be accurately described. For instance, if you write about the opera house in Sidney, Australia, it would be best if you knew a little something about it. Before this little thing called internet existed, you were almost obliged to go there to write about it, or go to the library to do research. Today you can just open your laptop and go to Google and look at the building from every angle and write about it.

So, where do you want to set your detective story? Anywhere is possible, just make it a fun ride for your reader and use the environment of your choosing to benefit the story.

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