• Ordinary people. Extraordinary romance.

    Ordinary people. Extraordinary romance.

08.14.2016Setting is an important part of any story. You want the reader grounded and relating to where the story takes place. Don’t leave her stranded. For instance, I critiqued the opening chapter of a novel today and all I know is that it was set in the desert. Which desert? What time of year (yes, deserts have seasons. In Arizona, summer is monsoon season).

On the other hand, too much setting makes your reader’s eyes glaze over. They start skipping ahead, one of the worst things imaginable for a writer.

Setting establishes mood, builds tension and adds characterization. It should engage the senses, but you don’t want a laundry list-the air smelled of jasmine; the scree of the birds raised the hair on Margaret’s neck; etc., etc. Like all description, setting should be dropped in a piece at a time.

Setting should be important to the point of view (POV) character. What does it reveal about her personality? Is she afraid of water? Heights? Is she a city girl lost in the forest? Establish an emotional connection, build the setting around the character’s fears, add challenges, and the plot becomes more complicated.

My latest story, Snow White and the Eighth Dwarf, now in revision, is set in winter in the Enchanted Forest. You bet I take advantage of snow and ice and storms to set the mood, add value to scenes, and challenge the characters. The weather deepens their struggles and creates lots of delicious conflict.

On the subject of weather, never, ever start a story with a weather report. Weather may be an important element to the story, but it’s not strong enough to hook the reader into reading more.

Weather should not be used as a mirror of the character’s mood. Rainy at a funeral is overdone and ineffective for today’s sophisticated reader. Instead, show the character’s reaction to the weather. Make it work for or against the character to bring the reader deeper into her point of view.

When describing setting, do so from the character’s point of view. What would she notice? How would she describe it? Use her language. Make the descriptions true to her character.

Remember pacing when describing setting. If your characters are fighting for their lives in an icy river (as do Snow White and her hero, Lex), they’ll notice the cold and the rush of the water, maybe the sound, but the pacing is furious. They’re fighting for their lives and have no time to recognize the song of a bird flying overhead.

By now, you recognize the importance of setting in your story. It can be a secondary character in moving the plot forward, establishing mood and creating conflict. Handled well, setting pulls your reader deeper into the story. Isn’t that what every writer wants?

Happy writing!

Cheryl

 

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Celebrate!

Celebrate!

How to write like a demon. 57K in 34 days.

 

Wow!

I’ve finished the first draft of my WIP (work in progress for those not in the know). I set a goal of August 1st to complete it, and I did. The time zone used is fuzzy. Okay, I borrowed one hour and forty-three minutes from August, but I wrote 57K words from June 28-August 1.

The story of my story:

Two years ago, I started a tale of Snow White. The reason remains lost to me, but I abandoned it at 9900 words. Outlined, short blurbs written for what should happen, but abandoned. I pulled it out in June, dusted it off, added more to the outline and began writing on June 28th. I expected to complete it at 40-45K, but the scenes kept growing. My final word count is 67,653. Some of that will be deleted. I’ve already marked two scenes because they wandered away from me.

Writing fast is a high. I set a 1K goal for each day and met it for all but three days. Two days were spent with family (two toddlers = no energy to write) and one day I vegged.

How did I write 57K in 34 days? Internal editor banished. Eyes closed. Music in headphones at times. Heavy use of xxxx for “look this up later” and “I don’t have time for the perfect word”. ** for “I might have used this word six times in the past two paragraphs, check later”. In fact, checking later is one of the keys to racking up the words. It’s an incredible high.

The next step is letting it simmer while I turn to some editing chores I’ve neglected. The Dearly Departed Dating Service is with my beta readers and cover artist. I’m combing the first draft (I write fairly clean) for obvious errors (using chose instead of chosen). When I receive my edits and covers, stay tuned for a release announcement.

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