One Writer’s Journey

November 7, 2018

Setting: Luring Readers In Step by Step

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 2:31 am
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Anyone who knows me knows that most of the time I’m reading one book and listening to another.  No, not at the same time.  Reading takes place in the evening.  And it is a print book.  The audio book is for when I’m rowing or doing handwork.  Rowing is a morning or afternoon activity.  Handwork can be any time of day but most often in the evening. And right now I’m critiquing two manuscripts as well.  That’s a lot of setting to keep straight.

Maybe it’s because I generally have more than one piece going, but I like distinctive settings and I love it when a writer knows how to draw you into that setting whether it is the Buttle apple orchard (The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle) or a small pet-friendly Virginia Town (Murder She Barked).

Wherever your story is set you need to introduce this setting to the reader.  It can be tempting to try to get this out-of-the-way with a gigantic info dump – paragraph after paragraph of important setting detail.  Important though these details may be, they tend to pull the reader out of the story.  What then would work?

One thing you can do is introduce your reader to the setting through the eyes of your character who is seeing it for the first time.  That’s what Krista Davis does in Murder She Barked. Holly hasn’t been back to this town for five long years and a lot has changed.  Wagtail is almost unrecognizable.  So we see it even as she sees it for the first time.

Or you can take your character from one side of the setting to the other.  That’s what Leslie Connor does in The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle. As Mason makes his way from place to place, he thinks about how great the orchard used to be.  He still loves it but a lot has changed in just a few years and Mason is a deep thinker.

Both of these approaches work because the author gives the reader setting details a few lines at a time, not a few paragraphs.  In this way, the setting is woven through the story and the reader has the time to really take it in.


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