More and more lately I’m seeing stories set in either—one: a bar, diner, restaurant, coffeeshop (insert type of eating/drinking establishment here); or at a school or at the church at the wedding Susie is about to run out on. The plotlines ultimately spread out and move on their own, but far too many--maybe one third--of the aforementioned settings come across my desk.
What do I do? I write to the author and ask/beg/implore her to change it. Why? Because it's too common. Too been there done that.Yes, you might argue that readers like familiarity. They like to be in a place where they can identify the surroundings or feel the ambiance, but why not give them new sensations, new emotions? Put your readers in new situations where they can explore their own emotions and reactions.
I'm not saying you should blow up something or make one of your characters into a fire-breathing dragon. I'm saying that DIFFERENT can happen anywhere, anytime--in any type of story, not just romance. It doesn't have to be momentous or life-threatening. What's cooler than for the reader to join your heroine as she's standing on a girder atop a new highrise (in her job as inspector or construction worker), or the hero as he's whooshing down a ski slope (dodging tumbling children or an enamored elderly woman)? Or she's attempting to put a new fanbelt in her car and opening the oil pan instead, or he's relaxing on a nude beach on a dare by his best friend? The point I'm making is to stretch yourself. Don't "write what you know", get out there and learn something new, THEN present it to your readers. Guaranteed they'll thank you.
Oh yes, you won't believe the great time you'll have researching. I've never found a company that didn't LOVE helping authors out. They take us on ride-alongs and tell personal stories. They provide free tours. AND they often provide book signing venues! What can be better than that!