Friday, August 17, 2012

Ask Elnora--About Setting?? Third Friday Writing--Lenora Worth

It's that time again, bloggerville! Time for Third Friday Writing! Elnora loves the third Friday of each month since we get to talk about--what else--writing! Today's subject is setting. It was a dark and stormy night--in New Orleans maybe? Or what about New York City? Or how about it was raining cats and dogs in Dodge City? Okay, I've got it. It's raining men in Winslow, Arizona. But maybe it doesn't really rain there all that much? Setting is as important to a story as plot and character. When we write a book, we have to decide who, what, when, where, why?? Did I leave anything out? I always add how, too. Just in case. The where is all about setting. We don't want to wrie a whimsical story about flowers with a dark, dead forest kind of setting. Unless of course there is only one flower growing in that dark forest and the prince has to pluck it to save the princess and he knows if he sets foot in that forest, dire things will happen to him. See how the forest becomes part of the setting. I love to use setting like a character. For example, my August release "The Diamond Secret" is set in New Orleans. So it's all about the vibe of this unique place--a saxophone player down the street, the sound of the streetcar rolling by, the smell of the river--part decay and dampness and part fishy and fresh. Or the hiss of a cup of coffee being pulled at the Cafe du Monde and the clop, clop, clop of a horse drawn carriage. New Orleans lends itself to sights, sounds, smells and definitely taste and touch. Setting allows us to build our own world within the world we already know. When we describe a room, a home, a yard, a neighborhood or a town, we want the reader to stroll along with us and see what we see. I love a lush, interesting setting. If the mood of the story is dark, I make sure the setting is a bit dark and menacing. If the mood is lighthearted, I make sure there is a hometown cafe where everyone gathers and that the whole town is bursting with greenery and pretty places. If I'm writing a suspense I try to make sure even the trees are creepy and dangerous. If my setting is near a big body of water, I use that to my advantage even when I'm giving my characters a narrative, as in--her heart filled with a joy as vast and deep as the bay. Setting can add a richness to our stories and give our readers a true journey into a new world. So let's discuss setting. What's your favorite kind of setting?

14 comments:

Debbie Kaufman said...

I love exotic settings the best, but any setting will do when the author pulls me in with the details that put me smack dab in the middle of that place. To me, setting is like its own character and must be handled and developed with an eye to detail. Love the "hiss" and "clop" details. Auditory references are so importanat.

Merrillee said...

I'm with Debbie. I don't care where the setting is as long as the author pulls me in with the details, but not too many details. I'm kind of like Goldilocks--not too much, not too little, just right.

Debby Giusti said...

I usually open with a dark setting. Often it's a stormy night, which works well in a suspense story. I need an exciting event to hook the reader and pull him or her into the story, and inclement weather makes everything a little more eerie, in my opinion.

Light also plays into my stories. Overcast skies, gathering storm clouds, gray days make a scene seem more somber. I save the sunshine and blue skies for the epilogue or when there's a moment of relief in between the escalating danger.

Lenora said...

Wow, you all must be writers!! Great examples and comments. Right now, it's raining and this is a different setting. Dark, cool, with threatening skies. But my potato vine is happy!!

Lyn Cote said...

I always start my story planning with place. I look for a place that is experiencing or has experienced some change.

Change always sets up conflict!

Lenora said...

OH, so true, Lyn. It begins with a day like no other day. And we're off. Setting can play a big part in that!

Lenora said...

What are some of our favorite books as far as setting:

Gone With the Wind
Wuthering Heights
The Far Pavillions
I have lots more!!!

PamelaTracy said...

Right now I'm into cozies so I'm partial to small-town settings. I agree, Lenora, Gone With the Wind was as much about the south as it was about Scarlett and Rhett.

Lenora said...

Yes, big dramatic backdrops make for good sagas. I think that's why people like Downton Abbey so much. It's the world building of that time and the drama, too.

Sandra Orchard said...

I second Merrillee's comment about not too many details. Too many and I start skimming, big time, especially if you tell me what a character is wearing from head to toe every time we meet them. One or two characterizing details of the setting or the character with carefully chosen words that evoke the mood you're trying to establish is what I like to see.

Debra Clopton said...

I'm with Merrillee and Sandra, I start skimming if there are too many details. I like to give just enough then let the reader use their imagination. But getting that right is a balancing act.

Lenora said...

It is a balancing act but I like a few details. Just enough to show my readers some character quirks or features. Same with the backdrop-- I enjoy details that help move the story along.

Debra Clopton said...

Oh I totally agree Lenora. I love enough to set you in the story and move the plot along. :)

Lenora said...

Agreed :)