Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Creating the Right Setting for Your Novel

Don’t let your story be transplantable. Is the setting integrally woven to the plot? If not, work at making it indispensable so that you cannot just pick up the story and plop it into another location. Ground your story in a specific time and place.

Think of setting as a character. Remember, the actual characters in your book will have a specific goal, attitude and (perhaps) history with regard to their environment just as they would for any other character. Let them express this in the way they respond to situations and other actual characters within that setting.

For example, if your protagonist visits the beach and this brings back memories of the time when he was ten and his brother drowned at the lake, or his experience playing beach volleyball in college, or a sense of peace, all of this will affect his actions, mood and demeanor.

So, ask yourself, “How does the setting make the characters feel? How does the setting affect the psychology of the characters? How do they interact with it? What annoys the characters about this environment? What gets in the way of them reaching his goals? What disadvantages does it cause them? What assets does it provide?” Show each person’s response to it. Give all of them an active relationship and attitude about each location.

I keep these questions in mind when I write:
  • Is the relationship between the characters and the story environment clear?
  • Are the attitudes of the characters clear (or at least strongly implied)?
  • Are there ways I can reshape the story to make the setting more significant to the plot or resolution?
So, here it is in a nutshell: Treat the setting as another character and give the people in your novel an attitude toward it.

1 comment:

Chandra said...