Today I have a guest post from Kourtney Heintz, author of The Six Train to Wisconsin. She’s here to talk about writing setting when you hate setting.
Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your blog space with me for the day! 🙂
Confession time. I despise setting. As a reader it bores the pants off me. Even when it’s well written. After a few lines, I skim. If it goes on a couple pages, I consider sticking a pen in my eye to alleviate my boredom.
As a writer, I hate writing setting. It just doesn’t interest me. So my first drafts usually all take place in a vacuum. If you’re lucky, I might mention the location.
I force myself to add 1-3 lines of setting to each scene on the next draft. Because regardless of whether I enjoy something, I want to make sure my readers get the very best experience out of it. If that means mining 1-2 telling details for the setting, I’m willing to do the digging.
It’s my critique partner, Kat Bender, who taught me how to use setting to create atmosphere and make it do double duty. She’s the one who tugs the setting out of me. She’s the one who writes setting in a way that I actually enjoy reading it.
She taught me that I can be a minimalist and still have maximum impact. It might help to give you a couple examples.
In my opening scene, I wrote:
“I kicked away the sheets, pushed myself upright, and pressed my back against the cold certainty of the headboard’s wrought iron bars. I gobbled up air. My jackrabbit pulse began to tortoise.”
I wanted to show that the husband was in bed and waking up to his wife’s emotions attacking him. I used strong action verbs to convey the emotional undercurrent of the situation and sprinkled in the setting so you get an image of him, but I don’t wax on and on about the location.
“She glided around the counter, her feet never straying from the sections of the hardwood floor lit by the kitchen. It was how she demarcated the dining area from the living room.”
I’m a big fan of using setting to create atmosphere. In this example, I wanted to show that there was something about the living room that she actively avoided at night. I also wanted the reader to experience how small the apartment was and that the kitchen, dining and living room were only a few feet apart.
For me, setting remains a challenge that I strive to meet. I want readers to come away with a sense of how the place impacts my characters without getting bogged down in descriptions.
The Six Train to Wisconsin by Kourtney Heintz
Published by Self published on May 2, 2013
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find the book: Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads
Sometimes saving the person you love can cost you everything.
There is one person that ties Oliver Richter to this world: his wife Kai. For Kai, Oliver is the keeper of her secrets.
When her telepathy spirals out of control and inundates her mind with the thoughts and emotions of everyone within a half-mile radius, the life they built together in Manhattan is threatened.
To save her, Oliver brings her to the hometown he abandoned—Butternut, Wisconsin—where the secrets of his past remain buried. But the past has a way of refusing to stay dead. Can Kai save Oliver before his secrets claim their future?
An emotionally powerful debut, The Six Train to Wisconsin pushes the bounds of love as it explores devotion, forgiveness and acceptance.
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