Image via WikipediaVenice makes an excellent location for a writer to put inside a work of fiction. It's not difficult to see why this is. To make Venice one of the places where action takes place when writing a novel solves a number of dilemmas that writers often face.
How can a location solve a problem?
Well - writers like me try to make their readers vividly imagine scenes, action, people and things. It is difficult for a reader to visualise a fictional place unless an author describes it minutely. I try to avoid lengthy descriptions, because I find it slows down the action. So how do I inject atmosphere without the words? Well - I use places like Venice.
So my action can take place in an easily-imagined location, and my readers can concentrate on what is happening, and the feelings and efforts of my protagonists, without getting bogged down with trying to mentally define the location in which it is all taking place. It helps that I have been there a number of times, and that I know how it feels to turn the corner at the public park and come upon the stretch of the lagoon. I know what it's like to stand aside to let people coming the opposite way across a narrow bridge pass, and then descend its steps into a tiny piazza where window boxes are filled with tiny flowers, next to an antique shop whose owner speaks five languages.
Because I have seen, felt, smelled and tasted Venice, I can make it come alive for my readers, whether they have ever been there or not, without needing too many words, because their imagination is already furnished with photos and films that other people have conveniently put in their minds.
Even if you have never been to Venice, it's not hard to picture, because it is one of the most photographed and filmed places on earth: it is easily brought into focus. You can see, in your mind's eye, the canals, the gondolas, the bridges and the little narrow lanes. You can see St Mark's Square, the Rialto Bridge, and the little islands called Murano and Torcello.
Even if you have never been there, you can imagine taking a waterbus and crossing the Grand Canal. You can see the churches in your head, and imagine how my heroine walks home along the traffic-free streets. You can see Santa Maria della Salute, San Giorgio, and the little shops that sell those beautifully painted and decorated carnival masks.
You can be there in an instant, with the minimum of description required from me.