Weekly Writing Challenge: Make Your Settings More Authentic

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, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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