Tag Archives: Settings

I’d like to say a few words on setting (plus, a great link)

Since my long-awaited wedding is this Saturday, and my honeymoon in Tennessee will immediately follow, you can imagine how up-to-my-ears I am with last minute details, and of course, last minute stress!

That being said, I’d like to say a few words on setting. As writers, I’m sure you heard that sometimes the setting “becomes a character” in a poem, story, or novel. Next week, I will be in a new setting of my own–The Great Smoky Mountains. I’m a Jersey girl, so talk about new surroundings! In literature, as in life, the ‘backdrop’ to our stories are worth more value than we give it credit for. We tend to focus on plot and characters, but often overlook the setting, and in some ways, take it for granted.

Even though it’s true that those other elements I spoke of–characters, plot, tension, conflict–do drive the story forward, the story itself would be completely different in another setting. Especially since a well-rounded setting includes  both time and place; an entire novel’s values, morals, and lifestyles could very well depend on the setting.

I came across a great article from Writer’s Digest this afternoon:

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/adriana-trigiani?et_mid=571494&rid=3058805

Enjoy the advice from author Adriana Trigiani, while I continue to plan for my wedding–and my new (yet temporary setting) 🙂

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Visions

As an intrinsic writer, my ability to conjure images is plentiful. Since I was a kid, while reading books I’d envision places that I’ve never seen before. Sure, sometimes a character’s mentioning of “Grandma’s house,” would place me in my own grandmother’s home. More often though, I’d see a whole place. New houses, new schools, new neighborhoods, new towns, new cities, etc. Sometimes I’ll revisit these places that live in my mind’s eye; in other words, two totally separate novels by two totally separate authors will wind up in the same setting.

As I gradually transform from reader to a reader/writer, this notion grows stronger. Unless I have particular setting in mind (i.e. my most recent short story) my mental backdrops are glimpses of the unknown. Where are these places? Do they exist? Do I dare attempt to be new-agey, and suggest that they are abodes from a previous life?

One could argue that it’s based on a writer’s description, but that can’t be 100% percent correct. Now that I write like a fiend, I understand that regardless of how important sketching may be, there is still a story to tell. All good stories balance the touchstones–characterization, plot, themes, etc.–there is only so much room for description. The writers plant an idea, that’s all. The rest comes from the clandestine capacity for fantasy of the intrinsic reader.

These places…or people or things…creep into my mind throughout the day. It always gives me a warming feeling. If my current environment feels threatening in the least, I can escape. I’ve always been naturally drawn to books, but it wasn’t until I started writing that I’ve understood why. Words and books exert the mind. A novel has far fewer limitations than do film or television.

But we know this. The ability to create our own settings only helps to prove it.

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Filed under Characters, Description, Inspiration, The Setting, The Writing Life, Writing Process