Creating a Setting

Welcome to week five of ‘Writerly Witterings.'  I hope you’re finding these posts useful and that they’re offering a few tips to help you with whatever writing project you’re on with at the moment.  I’d love to hear more about what you’re working on, so feel free to post into the comments below.  I’d also love to know if any of the suggestions are helpful to you, or if you have any strategies or ideas to add.

'Writerly Witterings' is a weekly blog dedicated to supporting other writers.  Each Monday I will blog about a different aspect of writing and follow this up with a Facebook Live at 5:00pm every Saturday.  This is also designed to be interactive and there is space for you to post your comments and ideas into that.

So far we have looked at finding time and space to write, and also at planning strategies.  This week concludes our thinking about planning, with a look at creating settings in our writing.

Setting and place is a huge part of effective writing but sometimes overlooked.  Done well, it can really bring a reader into the worlds and situations we create.  This is true in whatever we are writing, whether it is a poem, short story, life story or novel.

Here are some strategies for bringing a setting to life before and during our writing:creating a setting

·         List the settings that are familiar to you, particularly unique ones that may be more ‘out of reach’ to other people.  Through your work, you may have access to ‘behind the scenes’ locations or you may have visited interesting places.

·         You could use pictures to inspire you.  Either a photograph from your life or one you find in a magazine or on line.  A picture of a scene might be enough to spark something off.

·         I keep going back to the advice of carrying a notebook.  You never know where you might visit in the course of your everyday life.  You can capture places whilst you are in them.

·         I find this approach beneficial before, during and after writing a scene in a story or a poem.  If you are inhabiting the place you are writing about, whilst actually writing, it creates a more authentic scene.

·         Ensure you use all the senses to evoke the atmosphere.  Enable the reader to hear, see, smell, taste and feel.  Smell is a particularly evocative sense to use as it provides an instant response.

I think the best writing does not offer heavy passages of description when portraying a setting, more that details are ‘drip-fed’ throughout the rest of the narrative amongst the dialogue, character action, narration and internal thoughts.  I will discuss these aspects in later blog posts.

creating a settingSetting is as important as any of the other aspects in writing.  Sometimes writers get so entrenched in what the characters are doing that it’s easy to forget the sliver of sunlight across the table or the smell that reminds someone of home.  If writing a poem, setting can be the primary component so it’s even more vital for the writer to be immersed in the setting themselves so that they can bring it authentically to a reader.

What are your thoughts on creating a setting?  Is it something you plan?  Is it something you do well and consistently?  What is your approach?

I’ll follow this up post with a Facebook live this Saturday (9th Feb) at 5:00.  Link with my Facebook Page here.  My previous Facebook ‘lives’ are available here too, should you wish to watch any of them back.

Have a great writing week and next week, I’ll be looking at story opening.

©Maria Stephenson 4/2/19

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