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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Writing Extravaganza Post 5 - Setting

My giveaway has put off our writing extravaganza adventures for a little while. (There's still time--you can still enter!) Today we have another great post to get us back into the writing mood. Caitria Karis is here to write about settings. We can all learn a new thing or two, and come to look at some things in a new light. Without further ado, I'll let Caitria introduce herself and get started!

 Caitria Karis: historical fiction, dystopian/sci-fi, fantasy novelist; devourer of books; musician; lover of the color lavender; and krazy 19-year-old. She read Catching Fire and Mockingjay in the same day, plunks Disney songs on her piano, and doesn’t care how lame everyone else thinks he is, declares Captain America the best Avenger {ok, he’s not the coolest, or the smartest,  or the strongest…but he’s the best}. She dries dishes by dancing them around the kitchen singing Reflection  {she adores  music} and owns her own business. Writing never had a beginning for her. Even when she could barely scrawl letters she was telling stories on paper. Currently, she is working on editing a historical fiction trilogy {ahem, for the last 6 almost 7 years} and completing the first book of a dystopian/sci-fi trilogy.

A powerful setting is not about time and place. It’s not about fairylands and the great pyramids. It’s about connection.

A reader is transported into your world emotionally by the character. They are transported physically by your setting.

There are many different types of settings. Every genre and style and author has their own, a picture of the world of their novel. A good setting doesn’t necessarily have to be spoken.

The best setting is felt, almost as if it is an emotion. Often, the setting is used to influence or contrast the character’s emotions {i.e. rainclouds during depression, sunshine on an adventurous day… (though, some of these are becoming quite cliché – therealways seems to be a thunderstorm at the emotional climax)}.

In too many cases, writers spill out the entire contents of a room and leave nothing to the reader’s imagination. Imagination is the greatest tool a reader can bring to a book. It captures and helps them become involved in the story, create their own picture of what is going on. Giving them a background and foundation is necessary. But don’t overdo it.

For a historical fiction, setting vehicles you to the past. It is important to be aware of the cultural and social customs of the time, the likelihood of your storyline actually taking place, and the building of your domain. Historical fiction is probably one of the hardest genre’s to write, because you are so limited by the knowledge of the past. Creating a realistic picture of an age not one reader has ever belonged to is challenging, because it must still appear realistic. Analogies are very important, because they fill the reader’s mind with comparisons given by the protagonist. If we are in Medieval England, likening a character’s hesitation to a lurching car is going to convey confusion and disjoint the way the story flows.

Fantasy is fun. You can create your own world. And while you get to call the shots for what your world is like, it is better to stay within boundaries of your creation and introduce the reader to your civilizations traditions and customs. Don’t randomly pull from times of history to pool your world’s society. Everything still needs to be easily associated. If one person is using a sword and the next a machine gun, I would have a hard time picturing the culture and science of the book.

Creating your own unique, rich flavor to a setting is what will draw in your readers. Give them a voice, a picture, that will capture them and make them want more, imagine this really happening. Some books spend pages {some even chapters}developing the setting. Others can establish a setting in a few short words that will stand for the rest of the book. I won’t pretend either is better or worse, there are pros and cons for both. What I will say is your setting is powerful. It develops an angle and depth to your protagonist, the storyline, and the difficulty they must surmount that cannot be fashioned any other way.

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