Location! Location! Location! You’ve heard that about businesses and marketing for years, but when it comes to stories the same can be said. Did you know that the location of a story can be the driving force behind it? It can shape the characters, the plot, and everything within the pages. Location can be the driving force behind the plot of a most excellent story. Here are a few stories where the location is the story.
Murder on the Orient Express
Considering almost the entire story occurs on one train, I’d say this story is location driven. Agatha Christie’s story starts on one train and a few platforms with a brief interlude in a hotel room. That lasts for only a few pages before the reader is taken onto the Orient Express and exposed to murder. The story never leaves the train as the murder unfolds while the passengers are all trapped on the train. It helps that an avalanche of snow has them trapped though it adds to the mystery of who the murderer is and where he/she went.
Location is key to the story as it traps the murderer and gives more intrigue to the story. There is no need to switch focus. Your attention is riveted to a train where death is hiding.
(A new movie is coming out soon. Can’t wait to see this on the big screen with big name actors.)
While the title might accurately suggest that the book is character driven, it is also very much location driven. Daphne du Maurier’s entire story is mainly told in the mansion where Rebecca once lived. A few scenes drift out to where the last days of her life were spent, but it all is set on the estate. Why? Because that is where Rebecca reigned and those who loved her still reside. The new wife has entered into a hallowed domain that still is haunted by the memory of Rebecca.
The house and its grounds are where the new wife has to fight the memory of the deceased woman who had many secrets that led to her death. If the book moved off the grounds, the intensity of the drama would be much less. Location is crucial to the suspense.
The Name of the Rose
If you haven’t read this book, I strongly suggest you do. It is a great piece that will have you not wanting to put it down until the last page. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco is set in a Medieval monastery. Strange deaths have occurred which has led one monk and an assistant to be sent to investigate the events. The story takes them through the buildings and all the building uncovering secrets and truths.
Everything is about the location, the monks who live there, and the unseen drama that exists. Again, if scenes moved outside the walls of the monastery, the story would not have such an impact on the reader. The more he explores the mystery, the thicker it gets. You’ll be surprised at the ending.
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
The location of these murders created by Edgar Allan Poe is very important. An apartment located several floors up. A window nailed shut. Two badly beaten and mutilated bodies: one stuffed up a chimney and one located out in the courtyard. How on earth could anyone have done that and gotten away?
The entire mystery surrounds the bodies and the location. It is the location that causes many of the investigative roadblocks. Haven’t read it? I won’t spoil the fun though I have to admit that I couldn’t solve the mystery before it was revealed.
These are just a few of the great mysteries that couldn’t have been written without the focus on location. The story is about the location and then about the people there. A large number of stories focus on the plot and can move from location to location even to different parts of the world. That can be confusing at times, but mostly it has to happen due to the story. These stories that stay in one location let the location get behind the plot wheel.
If you haven’t read the\se listed above, I challenge you to read them. If you have, comment on your thoughts on them. Also, name other mysteries driven by location. How do you see location playing such a major part if those stories?