When we first learn to analyze passages, and this is as early as first grade, we learn to pay attention to setting. Where are we? What do we see when we look around? All of that matters, but it is really simplistic. Later, we realize that setting affects how the people around you act, how the speak, how the dress and how they think. Every single space on this earth has its own idiosyncrasies, but few places evoke the kind of visceral reaction like the South.

Sounds ominous, doesn’t it. The South.

Even for those who have never visited, have an idea of what its like “down there”. Reactions swing from the romantic to the revolting. Images of rolling green hills and magnolia trees are juxtaposed with those of men in white hoods and lifeless black bodies swinging from those same magnolias. Even still, the culture, the food, the speech that has emerged from the mix of African, French, Spanish, Native American, and Mexican influences has created something completely American.

As a writer, we choose our tools. Some write exclusively from the female perspective, or just science fiction, but as a Southerner I write from the South and always will. My characters eat biscuits and grits, they say ‘yes, sir’ and ‘no, ma’am’. They go to church on Sundays and know that you can only make sweet tea when you mix the sugar in while it’s hot. This does not change. What can’t you change in your writing?

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