ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Making your settings spectacular so setting becomes a character.

Hi  there!

I've been hooked on settings ever since I read the contraband Mills & Boon romances handed to my sister and I in a big cardboard box by a romance-struck aunt and stored under our bed for our reading pleasure. Being 12 years old, and already an avid reader, I devoured them for their exotic settings--truly! These little stories took me to the Greek Islands, the Isle of Capri, and Spanish haciendas--firing up my insatiable urge to travel which remains a strong motivation to jump on a plane any time I have a free few weeks.

Over at Write...Edit...Publish today I've posted about Spectacular Settings, our first prompt since Yolanda Renee and I jump started the bloghop. I'm hoping to fire up minds with the importance of settings in stories--of course we need all the other givens--plot, characters, conflict etc. My favourite stories are those where the setting is so well done it becomes a character...think Maycomb County for a start...more on Maycomb and To Kill a Mockingbird over at WEP.


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  • Is setting important to you when you write or read stories?
  • Do you rock at setting, or do you struggle with it?







33 comments:

  1. Me? Struggle. World building and setting do not come naturally.

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  2. You are the master, and I look forward to tackling the first challenge. See if I can't capture the reason I fell in love with Alaska in that first hour. :)

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  3. Hi Denise - that was a mistress-stroke of your aunt ... to two sisters becoming entangled in writing and romance ... did you the power of good! Settings - yes so important ... cheers Hilary

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  4. I adore stories that transport the reader too. In fact, it's probably WHY I read. Can't get out of the house with the littles, but that doesn't mean I can't travel.

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  5. The anticipation of WEP is killing me. Actually, it's the moving and settling in that is killing me. . .

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  6. I enjoy settings that are super-ordinary, where unusual things start happening. I don't necessarily mean otherworldly, just unusual in that they may be sad, funny, horrifying or whatnot.

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  7. Setting is very important to me both as a reader and writer. I love to visit places I’ve read about, and I almost always set my own stories in real locations. I do struggle with getting the setting right. It was a significant challenge for me when asked to rewrite and fictionalize a real life setting (a school) in one of my stories.

    VR Barkowski

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    1. But a worthwhile challenge I'm sure VR.

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  8. I've read some novels where setting is a character - it's a skill.
    I'm not sure that I'm good at setting...

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    1. Yes, I love setting as a character Michelle.

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  9. Setting is usually very important to me, and I think I'm pretty good at it. :-)

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  10. I did the same as you - I devoured romances between the ages of 12 - 14. Then I branched off into mysteries, SF, and horror. I also loved Harlequin Romances that took place in a foreign land. A great setting is a must for any story and atmosphere/tone are important too. Have a great Friday! :)

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    1. I branched off into everything except fantasy and sci fi and horror. But now I write horror at times. Go figure!

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  11. I read a pile of M&B's too as a teen, and I loved those exotic places the action happened in :) Setting *is* a character for me as a reader, though I don't know how well I do settings as a writer. Looking forward to the challenge!

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    1. Looking forward to seeing you at the WEP challenge Nila! Glad all the M&B readers are coming out of the closet! Not just me then! :-)

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    2. Oh no, not just you definitely I'd say! :-)

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    3. I also 'cut my teeth' on M&B.
      During my teens, I devoured these stories.
      This happened just after the Anne Of Green Gables phase...

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  12. Setting can make a lukewarm story. Sometimes I read a book by a writer in a different country or region just to get the flavor of the place.

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  13. I love it when setting is a vivid part of a story, but I think there are also great stories where the setting doesn't play such a big part. Yes, setting can definitely be a character of its own!

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    1. All my favourites definitely have awesome setting treatments.

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  14. I love reading about far flung lands. Setting if treated as a character in itself is fantastic to read!

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    1. Me too Nas. Reading is a wonderful gift.

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  15. I totally agree about the importance of setting. I'm smiling about your contraband romances. At about that age, I used to sneak my dad's private detective books and read them :)

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    1. Yep. And I snuck Phantom comics too.

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  16. Settings often make the story! As a youngster, I was hooked on Agatha Christie and Ian Fleming (James Bond) novels. They fuelled my wanderlust, among other things. :)

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    1. I can see why Debbie. Great settings.

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  17. Settings can be so intriguing! I'm not as strong a writer as I'd like to be in developing settings, but I'm working at it :)

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  18. Setting is my weakness. I never slow down and describe the surroundings. I always envy writers who remember to incorporate all of the senses into their scenes. I just focus more on the characters for some reason and my editor/agent always has to remind me, "Hey, could you tell us a little about where they ARE?"

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    1. That's quite funny Stephanie. I'm the opposite.

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  19. setting has been crucial in the last two stories I wrote. One of them I actually began with setting and built the story around that.

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