Ever read a novel review where the reviewer praises the writer for creating setting as a character? As you draft your novel, you’re busy with story and character development. But what about that setting?
Writing Tip for Today: Developing your novel’s setting so that it functions as a character unto itself takes a bit more than just the most obvious metaphor. You can “paint” scenes so that your setting has a more prominent role than mere scenery. Here are three ways to use setting as a character:
- Paint a Setting with Emotion. Heighten the mood of a scene by using the setting or backdrop. If your character is in a stormy landscape and also in a stormy or conflicted mood, the setting underscores and heightens the scene’s tension. However,wield a light touch with these scenic touches. The reader wants a suggestion, not a blow to the head.
- Paint a Setting to Reflect Metaphor. The same idea about subtlety here. If you paint a stormy seashore and your character is metaphorically “tossed about” by life. always go for understatement. Readers prefer to discover, not be told.
- Paint a Setting that Functions as Obstacle. Even if your story is about a city dweller, you can still use the setting as an obstacle. A jail cell, a hot city day, torrential rains or a hurricane barreling toward your character can serve to bump a well-worn plot into an exciting complication for your character. In fiction, setting is malleable in your writer’s hands. For the real-life characters who live in Hurricane Sandy’s path, stay safe and my thoughts and prayers are with you.