How much thought do you put into choosing the year your novel is set in? If you write contemporary fiction, perhaps that is a foregone conclusion—your storyline begins now, or in the recent past! And if you write historical fiction, you likely have a specific time in history in which to frame your plot. Sci-Fi is often set in some distant time in the future. Sometimes, though, time setting is far more subjective.
For instance, I would have set Story for a Shipwright in the year I began writing it—2008. However, because of an important plot point, I had to take into consideration the significantly more stringent security measures of international travel—with emphasis on provable ID since 9/11. I could not pull off a major plot point unless it was set prior to that event, thus, I chose to open the story in the spring of 2001.
As for Portrait of a Girl Running, I picked the year 1978 because it was the year I graduated high school; I could write about it with authenticity. Also, with the increasing awareness of privacy issues and boundaries in ‘fiduciary’ relationships over the past 30 years, it would have been trickier to establish credibility in my plot and character development, had I set it in present day. Sometimes, even in few decades make a big difference in the attitudes of society in general.
With my WIP, Whispering Narrows, I chose the pivotal year 1969 for two reasons: 1) I remember 1969 as a child, and so does my husband who is a couple years older and whose experience I draw from. 2) The Woodstock Festival of 1969 is a plot feature (at least I think it might be at this point—I want to leave my options open).
What factors do you take into consideration when you choose the specific year or time frame of your stories?