Finding a story setting has rarely been an issue for me. I suppose that comes from the way I sit and write. When I start a story the situation develops itself and the surroundings fill in as they are needed. Most of the time this suffices, however there are often occasions I end up using a specific place, I have used the town I live in several times and I have to go back through the story and verify that things are correct for the area. Once I wrote of a girl leaning against an oak tree. However, there are few if any oak trees sufficient in size growing the Newport Oregon area to fill the role. Oaks just don’t do well here. What we have are Sitka Spruce, Hemlock, Douglas Fir, Shore Pine, and Red Alder. There are others but this is the main tree stock growing naturally here. These trees like a cooler moister climate. Oaks seem to like the warmer weather.
It was a rather small detail but consistency is important. Working from memory of an area often leads us into issues. I wrote another story where a man used stairs to exit the beach at a local park. I visited the park a few weeks later and found out that not only were there no stairs, there was a Viet Nam Memorial Walkway, lined with benches, lights and the names of fallen veterans of that war leading from the beach up to the street level. Anyone who has walked that would have seen the inconsistency right away. I feel fortunate no one who read the story (it was a story for a class) had ever paid much attention to the detail of the area. It would have been quite embarrassing for someone who might have been involved in the project to have come to me and said… ‘Umm no, you better go back to the park and look again.’ Not to mention the idea that this failure to mention the memorial is a kind of slap in the face of the local Viet Nam veterans who died there -- unintentional for sure but an insult nevertheless.
While being specific with a location is often essential in a story, remember to do the research, verify your memory, even if you feel you are quite familiar with an area, things change. And there might just be some small thing hiding there that can add more depth to a story. My missing the memorial walkway resulted from my being in the heat of creativity and assuming there was a stairway there similar to the the dozens of other access points. I had never actually walked to the beach from that park. I feel that no one called me on it because the stairs were used as a prop, a way to get to street level, nothing essential to the story. Yet, having the memorial in there brings a deeper realism to the scene.
Use five of the following six words in a short piece:
Have some fun with this and create a unique scene.