March 26, 2011

RePost: 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!


Kari Marie said...

Emily-this is something I really needed to read! My setting is a bit lackluster. Thank you.

Paula Schuck said...

Hi there. I found this site with linkreferral and liked it so now I am a new GFC follower.


Unknown said...

You're welcome, Kari. We all need reminders every now and then. I'm glad this one came at the right time for you.

Paula, I'm so glad you like the blog! It's rare to connect people with similar interests on Link Referral, but sometimes lightning strikes! That's why I do it, I guess.

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