Tuesday, November 9, 2010

10 Resources and Tips for Writers - SETTING

Now that you've got your characters figured out, it's time to give them somewhere to come to life - a setting where your (their) story will unfold. Your setting can make a real difference in the success or failure of your novel. It can set the tone or mood. The right setting is more than just a backdrop for your characters to play their parts in. It can be a character all on its own. Would Jane Eyre have been the same if it were set in sunny Tuscany? Would Jan Karon's Mitford series have been the same if transported to a Los Angeles locale?
Whether your setting is real or imagined, is unimportant. What matters is how it sets the stage for your story.
Need some help working all this out? I'm here to help! Here's just a few of the many sites and tips you might find helpful as you select the perfect spot (or spots).
  1. Want help walking through the different kinds of settings? This entry comes complete with a list of types (with click through explanations/examples), as well as, an index of fictional universes and places. 
  2. Need help getting started? There's a great article on Skotos  that will walk you through the framework from the Elements of Setting to using the five senses to pick your place.
  3. Intrigued with involving the five senses in the creation of your setting? Ginny Wiehardt has a great exercise that will guide you through just that.  It takes 30 minutes to an hour to complete but it is well worth the effort if your setting lacks the kind of intensity that helps your reader get involved.
  4. Work better with writing prompts? Then go to  Write It Sideways where they have 21 writing prompts for setting that scene!
  5. Are you a visual person? Then photo prompts may be just the ticket. Whether you're looking to create a seasonal or an exotic location for your story to unfold,  the collection of different types of photo prompts at the Creativity Portal might get your thought train rolling.
  6. Trying to give your story a sense of time and place? This article at Suite 101 covers it nicely. Nicholas Morine provides some tips for creating a believable and  immersing setting in this short article. While you're there check out this one too.
  7. What came first the chicken or the egg? What does that have to do with your novel you might ask. Well, then, what comes first for you, the characters or the setting? In Peter Geye‘s case, he had a location that was near and dear to him and built his wonderful novel around that. Enjoy this interview.
  8. Some short tips: "show" it don't tell it. Make that setting come to life in the reader's mind.The wind isn't just blowing - how does it interact with the characters or the locale? Is it tossing the hero's hair playfully? Or is it a strong gust that is bending the young saplings like subjects hailing a king?
  9. The devil may be in the details but don't let him get lost in them! Don't get lost in describing every little detail in the room - just choose a few. Make them carry the weight. Choose two or three things in the room/scene that best provide a feeling of mood.
  10. Don't cram all that description into one paragraph and then forget about it! It should flow throughout the story. Think of the setting as a character that needs to be considered as your story unfolds.
  11. Yes, I know I said 10 Tips and Resources - but I'd be remiss to leave this one out - Don't just string together a list of adjectives! Separate them, let them interact with the characters. Don't just say the bed was lumpy, rather let your heroine squirm and wriggle as she struggles to find a comfortable position despite the bed's irritating lumps.
I hope you found this article helpful!
Now settle into a comfortable chair and Get writing!

This article may be copied and quoted as long as you include the byline below:
© 2010 by MaryChris Bradley, Publisher Buddhapuss Ink LLC, the proud publishers of The Last Track by Sam Hilliard and the upcoming Mystery Times Ten, a collection of Mystery Short Stories for the YA audience.


Authors, be sure to check out our YA Mystery Short Story Competition - Mystery Times Ten. Happy writing!
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