Tag Archive - setting

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…

Connecting Your Characters to Settings in Your Novel

We’ve been looking at settings in your novel: the overall milieu or locale that your story takes place in, as well and the various locations your scenes are set in. I’ve encouraged you to take the time to come up with fresh, significant settings instead of defaulting to the easiest and first location types that come to mind, such as restaurants and coffee shops.

We spend a lot of our time at work and home, and occasionally at those restaurants and coffee shops, but that is ordinary life. And while we want to show our characters in their ordinary lives (at least sometimes), readers don’t want “boring.” Continue Reading…

Showing Settings through the Eyes of Your Characters

“It is impossible to powerfully capture a place via objective description—at least to capture it in a way that readers will not skim. Only through the eyes and heart of a character does place come truly alive.” (Donald Maass, The Fire in Fiction)

You may not have thought about setting in this way, but it’s all about the POV character. Every person reacts differently to a specific setting. If you and a group of your friends were transported to someplace you’d never been, you would each notice, like, dislike, and be curious about different things.

We’ve been looking at the seventh pillar of novel construction: setting with a purpose. Creating evocative, purposeful, and creative settings in your novel will help make your novel richer and transport the reader to your world with more ease. Continue Reading…

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