guest post: making your setting a character

Today's guest post is by Bethany Harar, whose new novel Voices of the Sea is available now! See below the post for details.

When I told my mother I was going to write a post about making your setting a character in your novel, my mom looked at me like I was crazy. “What does that mean,” she asked. “How can a setting be a character? It isn’t alive.” But that’s the beauty of fiction. We can do whatever we want!

I think that giving voice and character to your setting is very important because whether we realize it or not, we are emotionally moved by the world around us every day, and that emotional involvement can give new life to our writing. When our characters look beyond themselves, when they realize that this universe is much bigger than their world, from wherever they matriculate, it adds to our story. And to allow that “universe” to have its own personality helps it comes to life for the reader.

For example, when I started writing Voices of the Sea, I never meant for the ocean to become one of my characters; but, as I wrote, I realized that it had developed a life of its own. It had feelings, it connected to my protagonist and, eventually, I let it speak to her, to express its own emotions in its own way. Without intending to, I made it a character.

People were made to interact with their surroundings. Houses can be haunted, or full of sad memories which torment the protagonist; or a house can be a happy place which lends to new experiences. A simple field can inspire, alienate or hide from the protagonist. A storm can be a more formidable foe than the serial killer who lurks in the basement. Don’t be afraid to take personification to the fullest extreme – make it a consistent, reliable voice in your writing – allow it to develop its own personality - and I think you’ll find that your writing has more meaning, more excitement and more depth.

Title: Voices of the Sea

Genre: YA Paranormal

Publisher: WiDo Publishing

Publication Date: July 22, 2014

Paperback: 285 pages


The Sirens of Pacific Grove, California are being exterminated, and seventeen-year-old Loralei Reines is their next target. Lora may look like a normal teenager, but her voice has the power to enchant and hypnotize men. Like the other Sirens in her clan, however, she keeps her true identity a secret to protect their species.

Lora's birthright as the next clan leader seems far off, until the Sons of Orpheus, a vicious cult determined to kill all Sirens on Earth, begin exterminating her people. When an unexpected tragedy occurs, Lora must take her place as Guardian of the Clan.

Lora is determined to gain control of her skills to help her clan, but they are developing too slowly, until she meets Ryan, a human boy. When Ryan is near, Lora's abilities strengthen. She knows she shouldn't be with a human. Yet, she can't resist her attraction to him, or the surge in power she feels whenever they're together.

And the Sirens are running out of time. If Lora can't unlock the secret to defeat the Sons of Orpheus, she, along with everyone she loves, will be annihilated.

About the Author:

Bethany Masone Harar graduated with a Bachelor's degree in English from James Madison University and a Masters in Secondary English Education from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has enjoyed teaching high school English ever since. As a teacher, Bethany is able to connect with the very audience for whom she writes, and this connection gives her insight into their interests. As a writer, she wants to make her readers gasp out loud, sigh with longing and identify with her characters. Bethany also enjoys posting on her blog,, is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and is an avid follower of literary-driven social media. She resides in Northern Virginia with her husband, two beautiful children, and her miniature poodle, Annie.

Author's Links:


Twitter: @bethhararwrites