In Search of a Setting

The process of writing a novel involves many steps. From plot to characters to setting, all the elements must be there, no matter what order you work on them. For most historical fiction writers, my guess would be that setting comes first. Here at The Damsels, we’ve even talked about other time periods we’d like to write about. (Click on the History category below right to see those posts.)  But upon thinking about this, I realized that I had developed the plot of my historical fantasy novel before I decided where I wanted the action to take place.

I could have plopped this plot down just about anywhere in history. It would have been a completely different story if I had, but I chose the late-Victorian era because I’ve enjoyed reading novels of that time period. I wanted the setting to be in Europe, but not England, since so many Victorian stories are based there (see, there was this queen named Victoria). Anyway, I’ve been fortunate to have traveled some in Europe and knew I wanted a small city to base my fictional town on.

Enter Bruges, Belgium.

The Market Square, Bruges © JY Cavalier

This city of approximately 120,000 people has a historic city center that is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. When I visited many years ago, I fell in love with its canals, the medieval architecture, and the windmills. What better place to set a fantasy novel?

Below are some photographs of Bruges, including a few from the Library of Congress that date between 1890 and 1900. It seems only the clothing and mode of transportation have changed. Enjoy!

Canal and belfry in background. Between ca 1890 and 1900.

Bruges canal. ca 1890-1900

Convent bridge. ca 1890-1900

The canals in Bruges are no longer used for commercial traffic. Only tourist passenger boats are allowed.

Kruispoort—Gate of the Holy Cross. ca 1890-1900

Kruispoort, modern day. The Kruispoort is one of the four preserved old city gateways. ©Wolfgang Staudt


4 Responses to In Search of a Setting

  1. Catrina says:

    Wow, what a beautiful and magical place! How long do we have to wait for your novel?

  2. Tricia says:

    It’ll be a while, Catrina. I’m still trying to get an agent and get it published.

  3. Emilie says:

    We’re going in September!!!!!!! I can’t wait!!!!!

  4. Kate says:

    Wow!! Great pics!! ❤

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