Tag Archive - setting

12 Questions to Ask Your Character about the Setting She Is In

On Throwback Thursday, we’re looking at excerpts from past posts on Live Write Thrive

Today’s post is from Settings in Your Novel That Work As Triggers:

When choosing settings for your scenes, you want to think about the kinds of places that will allow the emotions, needs, dreams, and fears of your characters to come out.

Certain places will trigger these things to come to the surface and will stir memories. Your character has a past, and even if she never visits any of the places in her past in your novel, other places can draw out feelings and memories. This happens to us all the time.

Of course, if you are putting your characters in places they’ve been before, or they are living in the same town their whole life, those memories and feelings are closer to the surface.

The point it, you want to use your setting to help bring out your themes, drive your plot, and reveal character. You don’t have to do this, but by ignoring setting you are missing out on a great tool in your writer’s toolbox that you can use in a powerful way. Continue Reading…

How Writers Can Bring Setting to Life through Personification

Today’s post is by Becca Puglisi.

Settings can be tricky for authors. In our desire to firmly ground readers in the scene, we often write too much, adding way more details than are necessary. We also tend to write our settings in somewhat bald terms, keeping them simple so readers can easily envision the time and place.

The problem with these approaches is they result in descriptions that are flat and boring—even when the places themselves are not.

This common area of difficulty is one of the reasons Angela and I decided to tackle settings in our latest books. To be most effective, setting descriptions should be concise and economical, conveying just what’s necessary in a way that brings the scene to life.

Figurative language can often help with this. Similes, metaphors, symbols, and personification can succinctly express the heart of a setting with an economy of words and in a way that appeals to readers. Continue Reading…

Infusing Your Settings with Emotion

Editor Robin Patchen wraps up our look at fatal flaw #10: Description Deficiencies and Excesses (If you’ve missed the other posts on this topic, start with this one here):

After I finished my first novel, I paid for a critique of the first fifteen pages. It came back so riddled with red, I feared she’d bled to death on my manuscript. One of her comments was, “Floating heads in a blank space.” Apparently, writing description didn’t come naturally to me. I remedied that, and my next critique partner highlighted paragraph after paragraph and added the comment, “You don’t need this.” I still didn’t have it right.

Years have passed, and find myself making similar comments to my clients. Yes, we need to describe our settings, but we don’t want to bore our readers. There’s a balance. And a great component that makes setting meaningful in a novel or short story.

Emotion Makes All the Difference

You must infuse your descriptions with emotion. Put your characters in the scene, and don’t just show us what they see—show us how they feel about what they see. Unless your character is Mr. Spock from Star Trek, he will have some emotional reaction. Two people can look at the same thing with very different opinions. Think of George Bailey and Mary Hatch from It’s a Wonderful Life. Remember the scene in which they are walking home from the party and stop in front of the old house? He sees a broken-down place worthy of nothing more than target practice. She sees a home. For each element in your scene, think about how your character would see it. Continue Reading…

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