Sunday, September 7, 2014

Reasons for Requesting: Setting

As mentioned the last time I posted, I went to Alaska this summer on a cruise with my family. It was truly a beautiful, breathtaking landscape. The kind that gets you inspired to write epic fantasy with huge, sweeping landscapes. Mostly because it almost doesn't seem real. Below are some pictures from the trip, including some sleepy sea lions :)

The weather was amazing to match the scenery. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. So it can be hard to make an image come to life with only a few paragraphs.

One of the great powers of writers is to make places that exist only in words come to life in the readers mind. Its a hard task and definitely one I struggle most with as a writer. Dialogue flows easily. Plot and characters? One of my strong suits. But imagery of any kind, particularly setting? I struggle big time with that.

So when a see a writer who can nail that setting? GIMME! The setting is as much a character as anyone else in your story. It should be a fully integrated element of the story. A most recent example I've come across of pitch perfect setting is  The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Spain is a huge part of the story and this book makes me want to visit.

In the end, that's really what your setting should do. Make us want to BE there. Make us want to hop onto the nearest train to Spain, Italy, Alaska or any number of fantastical locations. There are a lot of important elements that go into fleshing out a world, but setting is one of the most important.

Helpful tip for setting if you're bad at it like I am: Practice with describing places. It doesn't matter if its your local coffee shop or the glaciers of Alaska. Practice setting the scene to help it become more natural. And use all five senses when you do. Practice makes perfect right? And it might just land you an agent!

1 comment:

  1. We went to Alaska a few years ago and it's definitely an inspiring setting! I actually love writing about setting--maybe it comes from writing travel articles too. If I can reveal a place in a new way, even to a longtime resident, then I feel I've been successful.


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