Still trying to come up with something new to say about writing that I haven't put up here on SleuthSayers.
When I read Jim Winter's post "A Sense of Setting" (April 9, 2021), I went back and saw I had posted about setting back in January 2018. Figured we have some new followers, so I want to say it again because setting is so important in fiction. Here's what I previously posted –
I was fortunate to learn early from a panel of editors:
Setting is the fictional element which most quickly distinguishes the professional writer from the beginner.
Setting is not just the name of a place or time period, it is the feeling of the place and time period. It includes all conditions – region, geography, neighborhood, buildings, interiors, climate, time of day, season of year.
Setting should appear near the beginning of a novel or story and remain throughout by answering the questions WHERE and WHEN. By using sensory details, the writer can flesh out a setting: the visual, smells, sounds, taste, feeling of atmosphere. All five sense sould be used in describing the little things – what a character sees, hears, feels, tastes and smells.
Every story takes place somewhere. Setting is more than a backdrop, it creates mood, tone and can help establish the theme of a work of fiction. Like charaters, it plays an important role in a story. Writers should not neglect setting.
When establishing a setting, get the details correct. You can't have azaleas blooming in Louisiana in December. In New Orleans, the weather is an important part of setting. We have only two seasons – STEAMY HOT (spring, summer and autumn). WET COLD (winter). There are only two mild days at the beginning of spring and two mild days at the end of autumn. Tennessee Williams said these were the only good days to be outside in New Orleans.
Go to the place you set your story (or a place like it if your setting is fictional place). Go and watch, listen, take notes. It's helped me before.
|Azalea bush in Louisiana, March 2021|
NOTE: Do not put too much setting description in your fiction. It should not read like a travelogue.