Tag Archive - setting

Choosing Settings with the Highest EQ

Whether setting is a huge element in your story because of your premise or not, you can make setting powerful and impacting by choosing each place carefully.

For each scene, consider your high moment and the plot point you are going to reveal. The setting should be determined by the high point of the scene. Stop and think what main plot point or character insight you are going to center on in a scene.

What’s a high moment? Think about the purpose of your scene. Why are you writing it? What key plot development are you planning to show? Your scenes need to be crafted so that the action builds in the scene to this key moment, which comes at the end.

Consider the dynamics and conflict of the characters in that scene and ask: Where can I put these characters to generate the most conflict (inner and outer) and the strongest emotional quotient?

How do you want her to change in this scene? Think of the perfect setting to create or influence that change. Continue Reading…

How to Choose Setting with a Purpose

Settings in fiction are often in the background—literally. Characters are talking and doing things, but readers get merely a glimpse of setting.

A character enters a building in some unidentified place (town, countryside, the Moon?) and goes into a room that has no description whatsoever.

The character walks outside, and there is no notice of weather or time of day or season. The reader can’t see the neighborhood or the environment.

Face it: if a writer doesn’t care much about setting, the reader won’t either.

Is that a problem? Maybe not for some readers. But most people will agree that the task of a fiction writer is to immerse her readers into her story. And story is setting. Characters have to be somewhere while they are talking, thinking, and behaving. Continue Reading…

Masterful Setting Description Part 3

Masterful setting description teaches us an important lesson: writers need to take the time to paint enough of a sensory-rich picture in order for readers to feel they are there—or at very least, get a glimpse of how the setting feels and looks to the POV character.

As we’ve discussed in many of these posts on masterful description, all details presented in description is the POV character’s observation. When you are in POV and you describe a tree, you are not giving dry statistics about that tree; you are sharing what that character notices when looking at that tree. And the way that tree is described has to

  1. fit the character’s personality, vocabulary, background, and education (you can’t have an educated character describe the tree the way a botanist would);
  2. fit the character’s mood at that moment (the choice of phrasing and adjectives, as well as the aspects of the tree noticed, has to reveal, mirror, or imply the mind-set);
  3. and help set the tone of the scene.

That description could do much more than what I stated above. It could act as a metaphor in some way, or a motif. Spindly bare arms could signify bareness, for example, and while the character may not be standing in front of the tree thinking, “Gee, this tree is like me: barren,” you could masterfully describe the tree in a way that the reader gets the subtext, the unspoken thoughts, that are often more powerful than the outward descriptions. Continue Reading…

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