When you write a book, you truly need to establish a community for your characters, a place to call home, with friends surrounding them. Memorable characters and distant memories of what home used to be like will give your plots more life, grounding the reader to a setting.
Sometimes, the story takes place in a city or town that isn't the character's normal haunt. For example, in 'Get Me Out of Africa,' Kes was forced to travel to Zimbabwe by her awful boss, taking her out of her hometown of Denver. She was out of her element. But the 'community' for her became the people she met along the way, and eventually, she allowed her boss to become part of her community, trusting him more than ever by the end of the book.
Community will help define the setting, giving the characters something to believe in and to fight for. When you write, make sure you include how the community helps the character win their battles.
So who do you put in this community? I think of a community, somewhat like they had in the old west. I add in the following types of characters, some of whom overlap (for example, the main character might be the main authority figure for the community). Sometimes I let a character type out or add someone else in, but these are the basics.
- the main character, who is the focus of the story (sometimes it's two people, struggling together)
- an authority figure
- a moral figure, to keep everyone on the up-and-up
- the bad guy (sometimes, this isn't a person, but may be the setting, as in a hurricane)
- comic relief
- family members