Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Mary Buckham on Active Setting
ROBERTA: Every once in while we like to invite Mary Buckham to JRW--she's such a terrific writing teacher. I've taken several of her online writing classes and recommend them highly. Today she's here to talk about active setting--and she'll be stopping in to answer your questions so don't be shy!
MARY: What is Active Setting and how can it make a difference in our novels? Active Setting involves using narrative description of a place to do so much more than simply describe an environment. Active Setting means instead of describing a room, or town, or landscape we use that specific Setting to show characterization of the POV character or another story character, add sensory detail to the page, show emotion or create complications. Active Setting can also reveal back story, orient the reader as to the where, when and who of the story and it can impact story pacing.
It's amazing what Active Setting can do to enhance a story or, with the lack of it, flatline your novel.
Details must matter for Active Settings. Don't focus your reader on something that isn't pertinent to your story. Example --- you're showing the reader a room in a house. That room, and the details in that room, should show characterization, or conflict, or emotion, or foreshadow, or be there for a reason instead of simply to describe placement of objects in space.
One thing to remember is to let your POV characters interact with the setting, move through it, pick things up and brush past them, etc. Whenever there's an introduction of a setting that's different for the POV character, or for the reader, spend a few words of description to orient the reader. Make your Settings matter and your whole novel can benefit.
So what about you? What does Setting mean to you as you write? As you read? Feel free to comment and out of those who do comment one name will be drawn for a copy of BREAK INTO FICTION(tm): 11 Steps to Building a Story That Sells or one-on-one help with a Query letter. For more information on Active Settings, Mary will be teaching a two-week intensive online class called ACTIVE SETTINGS: For All Genres in May at www.WriterUniv.com.
Mary Buckham is an award-winning fiction writer, co-author with Dianna Love of BREAK INTO FICTION: (tm): 11 Steps to Building a Story That Sells from Adams Media, co-founder of www.WriterUniv.com and a highly sought after instructor both on-line and at live workshops around the country. To find out more about Mary, her Manuscript, Synopsis and Query help, her Lecture Packets, Workshops and Writing projects visit www.MaryBuckham.com