June 26, 2010

Build a Setting that Pulls Its Own Weight (and then some)

So I'm finally getting to a craft post! I found some great stuff on setting. It's something I used to not think about on the first draft. I used to forget about it or my setting would just have a few token descriptions sprinkled in and they were ordinary. Boring.

How to Revise Your Novel helped me to take a step back from my story and really see where my characters were and why I'd picked these particular locations. (Maybe you've heard that the setting needs to be the only place where the story could take place? It's true. Sometimes I did it subconsciously, but other times I had to work to make my setting count.)

As I work through the first draft of my WIP, I'm noticing that I'm SO much slower than I was with my other novels. Then I went back and read what I wrote and you know what? There's setting! Real setting. Meaningful. The setting helped build tension and character.

Katrina Stonoff wrote a fantastic article that really made an impact on me called Make Your "Where" Memorable. She helped me to see beyond the typical and bring out those details that you wouldn't expect, but that really draw the reader in.

Enrich Your Descriptions by learning how to develop you writer's eyes. There's more to a setting than what you see with the naked eye. How would you see a scene if you were a child? If you were in a hurry? If you were objective? This post goes deeper to even discuss connotation, which is definitely worth a read if you're not familiar with it.

Cynsations had a fun guest post by Deborah Halverson last week where she asks: what ever happened to description? It seems to have all but disappeared, what with writers worrying about pace and character and plot.

And this week, Greenhouse Literary posted How to Write the Breakout Novel Part 5: A Vivid Setting.
If you haven't delved into The Bookshelf Muse, I highly recommend some exploration. Scroll down the right-hand column for a list of settings. Click the link for "Forest" (or whatever is relevant to your story) and you'll be taken to an extensive list of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures you might find there. I use this site all the time to make my scenes pop.

Just a little goody for those of you who may write traditional fantasy: The Middle Ages, Chivalry, & Knighthood is an amazing go-to source for terms, time lines, maps, culture, food, history... you name it!


Unknown said...

Such a pretty blog, Emily. Good going. And lots of interesting info, thoughts, and links. All right!

Unknown said...

Thanks Tex! Good to see you over here. :)

Rabia said...

Oh, wow, Emily, The Bookshelf Muse is a fantastic resource. I just had a scene set in an abandoned mine, and now I have some more sensory details to go fill in. :D


Margo Berendsen said...

These are some great links! Thanks! Setting is something I often forget to concentrate on but it is so crucial.

Jason Black said...

How very timely. I swear, there must be something in the air.

Tuesday I did a blog post about how to figure out the ways your setting should/would affect your characters (here: http://bit.ly/9Clxct), and I'm pretty sure last week I saw another settings post on somebody else's blog, and now this one!

You'd think someone had sent out a memo...

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