Monday, July 09, 2012

Setting More Than Just a Pretty Place

Good morning everyone! It looks like it's going to be a bright, sunny (and probably hot) day here in Michigan. My tomatoes are starting to ripen. At least the cherry tomatoes are, the bigger tomatoes are still in the embryonic stage. We've been pretty busy enjoying the weather and some great new movies. I've also done a round of contest judging (and sure hope a couple of these get published soon because I want to see how they end) and a round of editing for my latest interactive adult paranormal Great Escapes - Summer Solstice. 

At any rate, I thought I'd share one of my earlier posts about settings. Hope you find it entertaining and informative!

Setting More Than Just a Pretty Place
Lynda K. Scott

According to Wikipedia:
In fiction, setting includes the time, location, and everything in which a story takes place, and initiates the main backdrop and mood for a story.

That's a fairly decent definition. But we, as authors, can't just say "Star Date: 8900.3, Starship Enterprise, Captain's Log" at the beginning of our story or whenever we have a scene change...though it would make things a lot easier, lol.

When I begin writing a story, I start with characters (who are they, where did they come from, what do they look like) but right behind them is the Setting. Why so? Because the answer can lead to Why Are They Here and that is invaluable to the plot.

Many authors use the setting as a character itself. Setting can lead to opportunities to add to the characterization or the plot. In my short story, Magician's Tale, the characters are scientists doing a quick study on a planet that rotates around a binary star system. In my novel, Heartstone, the characters travel to two planets totally different from Earth in climate and/or life forms.

My preference is to use the setting to help show mood or lead in to conflict. Here are some examples and a brief description of why I used it.

Weather Related Setting Descriptions
 The sky turned storm-silver and he heard the muffled roll of thunder, accompanied by the closer whine of a man-thing. (Heart of a Dragon – introduced the conflict)
 An ocean breeze, faintly laced with brine and damp, rolled up the mountain to chill his sweat-dampened skin. (Heartstone – leads into a scene showing internal fear)

Time of Day Setting Descriptions

A shadow, long and sharp in the sun's slanting rays, moved and vanished before Keriam could identify it. (Heartstone – shows contrasting mood)
Far out to sea, a pale line of fog rose out of the ocean depths.  High above the fog, a star pulsed in the indigo sky. (Altered Destiny – leads to characters mood)

But what if (my favorite phrase, lol) what if your character is on another planet?

Maureen McKinna’s polarized faceplate darkened as she looked toward the ominous red giant rapidly sinking behind the serrated teeth of the horizon.  (Magician's Tale – lead in to upcoming danger)
Mood Related Setting Descriptions
 The trees grew in an odd triad formation, three boles rooted companionably together. (Heartstone – shows viewpoint characters' intrigue with new world)
 The only signs of life were low, sulky bushes and a sooty yellow grass that hugged the ground stubbornly. (Heartstone – shows not only the desolate landscape but reflects the viewpoint characters' mood)

These are just a few ways to show the setting. Yes, they're brief and in their stories they're usually accompanied by an extra two or three sentences. But even when describing an alien world, you don't need paragraph on paragraph devoted to the setting. (Unless you write like James Michener who devoted pages and pages to describe the place his novel was set.) 

Whether it's to enhance characterization or plot, mood or theme, setting is more than just pretty place. It's a vital component in the writer's arsenal. 

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By Lynda K. Scott
Mundania Press
Eric d'Ebrur is out of time. He must fine the legendary Heartstone and fulfill the ancient Gar'Ja bond he shares with the Stonebearer. But when he finds her, he discovers that love can be more dangerous than the Gawan threat. Eric can defeat the mind-controlling Gawan but will it cost him the woman he loves? 

After terrifying episodes of hypersensitivity, Keriam Norton thinks she's losing her mind. When handsome shapeshifter Eric d'Ebrur saves her from the monstrous Gawan, she's sure of it. But insane or not, she'll find the Heartstone and, if she's lucky, a love to last a lifetime.
Available in print and ebook format
Buy Links: Mundania Press (use MP10 at checkout for 10% discount)


Altered Destiny 
by Lynda K Scott
Science Fantasy Romance
Available in ebook formats

Stranded on an alternate Earth, architect and Jill-of-all-trades, Liane Gautier-MacGregor must find her way back to her homeworld before she's enslaved...or falls in love with a man who is the exact duplicate of her ex-husband. 

Devyn MacGregor's alter ego as the Reiver Lord is the only way he can fight the Qui'arel and their nefarious Bride Bounty, a tax paid with human females...until he meets the oddly familiar woman who claims he is her husband. And who sets in motion the rebellion that will either free his countrymen or destroy them.

Buy Links: 

GrEat escapes – Valentine's Day (First in Series)
By Lynda K. Scott and Linda Wisdom
Interactive Adult Paranormal Fiction

The heartbroken and lovelorn come to Great Escapes B&B in search of a relaxing getaway, only to embark on a weekend of sexual self-discovery, courtesy of the inn's resident ghosts, who bring to life each guest's deepest desires.

Just as the ghosts transform to meet the needs of each guest, Great Escapes leverages the Kindle platform to deliver what each reader wants. Do you like your erotica steamy or romantic? Your hero to have blue or brown eyes? Anonymously fill out your preferences, and we'll deliver the best version of hundreds of combinations prepared by the authors.

In Great Escapes: Valentine's Day, Rose's best friend gives her a weekend stay, where an invisible lover helps her to rediscover her sexuality. But will she open her eyes enough to see who is right next door?

Buy Link

That's it for today! Hope you all have a Blessed Week!


Anonymous said...

Ah, yes, the setting. I'm frequently being reminded by my CPs to be more descriptive.

Lynda K. Scott said...

I always have to go back and make sure the setting/description matches the story plot or tone. Or if it doesn't, I have to decide if it serves a purpose. Frex, a setting with sunshine and flowers would be good for a light hearted story OR if it's being used to contrast to the characters mood/thoughts or even to foretell a change coming (ie beautiful day but dark clouds on horizon). There's so much to play with, lol