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Thursday, October 23, 2014

This is the place I Live. Nano Prep Episode 3. SETTING:

     Per Wikipedia setting includes; the historical moment in time, the geographic location in which the story takes place, and "... helps initiate the main backdrop and mood for a story."    While this is the surface definition, and is a good place to start.  It doesn't fully encompass what setting can be.

     One of the weirdest things I learned as I've been on this writing journey, is that setting can be a character in and of itself. "Somewhere in Time," and "The Wizard of Oz," are good examples. These places are every bit as much of a character as the people contained within.

        But what makes a setting come to life?  How do you write a scene so that it is as much of a character as  the people?  Details are what do this.  The vivid painting with words, specifically ... specific details.  Instead of tree, use Oak, Conifer, Willow.  In place of car, use "fire engine red Mustang,.:  That brings up a picture for your readers.    They can be only a few words, you don't need a lot.   Enough to set the scene, introduce it's character, but not so much that it overshadows the story, or drags down the pacing.  

     You as a writer should have a detailed map of your setting.  It doesn't have to be pretty, but just an idea to give you the location of things.   I am a very visual person, and need the help in front of me, so that I get an idea of spacial dimensions for that setting.  

For Example.

Say my setting is a restaurant, I would draw something like this...keep in mind I am a very bad stick artist.

You haz been warned!

Not too late to turn back!!!


(Okay, enough with the Labrynth references!)   O'S EQUAL TABLES  I'S ARE FISH TANKS.

______________________________________ entrance________________________

O   O    O    O    O    O   O   O   O    O    O    O    O   O   I                                      X  MENS ROOM
                                                                                             I                                     X  WOMEN'S



      You get the basic gist of that.   But setting can invoke emotions in characters.   Like say the above eatery is the place where your main characters boyfriend proposed.  You want to make it as special as the proposal itself.  If I were drawing this, I would put a lot more detail...I'm just not a good computer graphic artist.   It is not where my talents lie.  But I can do a pretty good drawing with pen and paper.  Not good enough to hang in the Louvre of course, but it gets me in the mindset of how I need to describe the scene.  

     How to do this.  I might write the above scene something like this.

Linda ran her fingers through her hair nervously while Ralph was in the rest room.   She wondered why he had brought her to the snow white linen cloth, and fine silver dining place.    It wasn't really her style, but he had insisted.  So now she was dressed up in this finery, looking around at the silk flowered, candlelit tables, chandeliers raining down light on the tables; looking more fairy tale then eating establishment.  She saw Ralph make his way over to her, he was wearing a black tux, with white shirt and blue bow tie.  She had helped him put it on earlier, when he had been silent as a monk.

      This is one way of giving out details of setting, through the eyes of the character.   The other is for an omniscient narrator giving out the setting, and just plunking down the character into the scene.  
     Depending on what kind of impact you want to make, is how you should choose which method is best for your story.   You can always try it both ways, and then take whichever way that doesn't work, out later.  This is good for Nano times as you are going for word count.  
      There are various books on crafting the setting.   Writers Digest Books has at least one that I can name offhand:

         "Settings (Elements of Fiction Writing).

But check out your local library, ours stocks lots of craft books for writers.  Enjoy your NaNoWriMo!


Be sure to check out my other Nano series articles and Nano 101 blogs.

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