Friday, January 2, 2015

Thoughts on Writing -- Questions on Setting

Last week I put up a call for questions, and one of my friends got back to me with some great ones. Here are three that focus on setting with the answers. I will likely do this again later this month, so if YOU have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I will add them to my list. You can ask ANYTHING that has to do with writing.

How do you describe setting without sounding like a nature documentary? 
Too much landscape description or being too broad in your description is what makes it sound like a nature documentary. When you think about it, in modern fiction, how often do you need to describe the landscape? Most of the time, it's not that important. Zoom in. What is important to your character at that moment in time? I am a minimalist when it comes to this department. But, my general rule? The five senses. Try to touch (hehe) on each of them. What does your character see, hear, smell, feel, taste? Obviously, you can't always apply all five, but forcing yourself to think of all these things will help you to enrich the setting. Remember, you want readers to have freedom to think; too much detail doesn't leave much up to the imagination, but you need enough of a sprinkling that you can set the stage for the reader.

How important is it to actually describe a setting?
Important. Every writer has somewhere they really thrive. Some love setting, some dialogue, some action, others prose or internal monologue. I don't usually focus as much on setting as I probably should, as I mentioned before, I like to leave a lot up to the reader's mind -- instead, I like dialogue (a post on this coming soon); I could live entirely in a book of dialogue, both writing, and reading, it's so much fun. But that's lazy. Setting is important. My friend, Linda Simoni-Wastila, is amazinggg with setting, I envy her talent. I'd love to get her answer to this question (and if she takes me up on this...I will put a link to her blog post right here...:)) But, in short, setting is extremely important. It's a tool that you can use to set the mood, manipulate the tone, and generally direct the reader's mind into the place where you want them to be. I like to establish it near the beginning. Set up that place where your characters can thrive. Then you have the ability to move within that space.

Thank you for the questions, Heather. Check out posts to come later this month with more answers!

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Loved your post. Setting plays such a crucial role in a story. At the same time the five senses are important too. I love to read something that pulls me into the pages and makes me feel like I am really there. Best wishes on publishing your novel.

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    1. Thank you for reading!! Hopefully one day you will get to read it :) best of luck to you in the new year too!!

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  2. Interesting post! I never thought about using the five senses from the perspective of the character when it comes to setting. I mean, that's what the reader is reading and what better way to experience it through the character's point of view.

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    1. Thank you! Senses are important to really help a reader experience the scene.

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  3. Very interesting. I'm not currently writing anything but have done some stuff in the past. I do need to give more attention to writing elements even if I'm just writing my blog posts. I've gotten lazy. :) This post will make me pay more attention to the books I read too!

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Shannon!! I love that it has made you think about writing elements. Good luck with your blog!

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  4. Great post! When I want to paint the setting, I stand in my character's 'body' and filter the world through his/her senses and thoughts. That's what makes it fun! Peace...

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