Monday, October 31, 2011
Technical Topics -- Setting
Setting gives the characters something to stand on. It keeps everybody from floating around in a formless white void.
Good setting is the polar opposite of that void. It has physical dimensions the characters can waltz around in. It's full of color, smell, sound and texture. It has a certain underlying reality, which is why it helps to know something about the place you're describing.
Good setting is a stuffed-full-of-possibility place that's interesting even after your characters walk off the set. A pair of boots left by the door says somebody will go out to milk the cows in a bit. A cleaning rag, stuffed hastily in a pocket, tells us the woman who answers the door has been dusting. The bicycle leaning outside a shop says someone has stopped in to buy milk. Good scene ties us to the wider fictive world. It holds the loose ends of of unrelated stories. It has a before and after that continue when the scene is done.
All this drama, color, and contrast keeps the reader from nodding off in the middle of Chapter Six, which is one of those writerly goals we have.
For the rest of this posting, go to 'The Other Side of the Story,: Here.