Story Weaving on Steroids: Setting

24 Aug

Today’s tricky story steroid  is about:

Setting.

Setting, is something that is very easily overlooked. In reading and in writing. We tend to just glance over it, the setting is only a “stage, but it has more power than you know!

In order to get your plot bulked up you not only need to know your characters and your story, but also where that story takes place. There are close to a million things I could point out to you that setting does for a book, but we’ll just be focusing on three of them.

First off setting influences your entire story! Changing up a setting can potential change an entire story, or scene. For instance setting a death scene in a bedroom will be wildly different from setting it on top a  cliff with a storm coming. The way the person dies, and the brutality of that death would be very different in both settings. When you pick or change a setting you have to be conscious of that fact. Every minuet detail of that setting could change things radically. What if your character is deathly allergic to bees? Setting your character in a meadow full of flowers will hike up his heart rate more than placing the scene near an ocean.

That brings us to point two, “Weather” in setting. Weather is an amazingly powerful tool, and should be viewed and used as such. I like to think of weather (and setting in general) like the background music of a movie. As writers we can’t put in a sad song at the death of a character that will subconsciously evoke those feelings in watchers/readers. But, we do have weather. Weather sends us subconscious clues as to what we should be feeling. Is your character angry? Add in some rumbling thunder. Is this scene the happiest moment in the book? Back that up with a sunny day!

Granted, you do not, I REPEAT DO NOT, need to make every scene correspond with the proper weather. That is unrealistic, and will add a little too much cheese factor. Weather should be used for powerful, and important scenes, usually at a major plot point, climax, or resolution.Using this technique sparingly will help to drive home the mood of the scene.

Finally, you should consider what time of day, a scene takes place at. Having an ominous and spooky scene take place at night will keep the fear factor up higher than having it occur in broad daylight. Time of day can also be used to symbolize certain things. For instance in Maggie Stiefvaters book “FOREVER”  the wolf pack has to cross miles of rugged terrain to go to new  hunting grounds, while avoiding the peril of poachers, this trek takes place at daybreak, just when the sun is rising. This symbolizes the new beginning of the pack, a “new dawn” to speak.

Use place, weather, and time all together, and you can bet you’ll have some serious setting on steroids!Never forget the tools you have at hand! Setting is a big one. 🙂

What do you all think about using setting as a “character” as some authors say?

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