The Emotional Impact of Setting
Have you ever read a book where you didn’t skim any of the setting descriptions? Did you wonder why the setting captured you?
Engaging settings generate emotion.
I admit, I’m impatient with too much description. To learn what captured me in a book I didn’t skim, I re-read the book and highlighted every sentence that described the setting.
The author only described things or places that were relevant to the plot.
That was the moment I went on a mission to learn everything I could about setting and how to use it to make my novels more enjoyable.
The third question in Top 3 Story Editing Questions For Fiction Writers was “Is the setting the best place for emotional impact?”
Location, objects and senses are all places to look for emotional impact.
Location is the place where a scene happens.
When describing the location, ask yourself: Is the location important to the plot, characters, or theme? If no, fewer details are required. If yes, be more generous with the details.
Once you’ve determined the location for each scene, ask yourself if the setting is the best place for emotional impact. This one little question helps you:
- Increase or decrease conflict
- Increase or decrease tension
- Set the mood
- Highlight emotion
- Show characterization
- Slow down or speed up pacing
Thinking about location in terms of emotional impact will wake up your creativity.
OBJECTS IN A SCENE
When you are story editing, keeping track of objects in a scene is important. An object should perform a function. An object could be a clue, remind a character of good or bad times, or cause conflict between characters.
An object may be included to provide richness to a location, but if you can give it a double purpose, it will add depth to your story.
The first time an object appears in your novel, you’ll want to describe it. You may want a detailed description if the object means something to a character, or you may want to keep it simple if you want the reader to know it’s there, but you don’t want them to focus on it yet.
If you have an object that plays a key role in the story, then mention it early. You’ll want to know which characters know about the object, when they find out about it, and if you have the object in key scenes.
Fictionary will help you keep track of objects and other elements that are relevant to the object, such as location or characters in the scene. You can quickly check if the objects are in key scenes.
All characters have senses, so use them to keep the stage interesting
All 5 senses are important. You’ll want to keep track that you don’t overuse one, under use another, and that you use more than one. This will make your character feel real.
This is only the beginning of how setting used properly within the structure of your novel can help you rewrite a novel that readers will love.
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