Monday, August 31, 2009

Courtney Breazile - Setting

Let's Welcome Courtney Beazile as our guest blogger today. She's giving a litte insight into what she's learned about setting and how to apply it to her story. Thanks for joining us, Courtney.

I posed the question of what makes a good setting and how can a setting enhance a story. I got many opinions on what settings were preferable but less on how they enhance a story.

When I sit down to write a story the setting is one of the first things I think about. The setting is so important to the story it is probably second only to the two main characters. Setting will, when done right, act as a character in itself.
A great setting sets up opportunity for the characters and it can set up obstacles for the characters. The setting acts like a character in these ways, moving in and out of the main character’s lives and shaping the story that the characters must walk through. The characters don’t walk a smooth paved path through life, there is no story there. They walk through dark woods and rough waters and get thrown off track time and again. It is this journey through settings that make a story worth reading.
Setting also sets the mood and tone of the story. If characters are walking through dark woods at midnight you get a completely different feeling than if the same two characters are walking on a crowded New York street. They can be having the same conversation, the same conflict with eachother but it will be a completely different experience for the reader and character depending on the setting.
Setting is used by an author to create the perfect story. Without a clear picture of the setting the reader will not fully experience the story, it will be as if the reader is only getting half the story. The setting should, at every turn, add something to the story or the character. It is never just a thing, it is a tool that, when used well, can create an unforgettable image and story.
As an example of setting telling half the story here is an excerpt from my September 1st release Treasure of Flowers:

“Trevon’s walk led him to a burnt out lot. He stood in front of it staring at where should have been his childhood home. The smell of burning wood and stone still lingered in the air as if the fire had only recently been put out. The heat that had radiated off the huge flames was a tangible memory. There was nothing left of it, a burned out shell of a home once filled with laughter and love. The place that should have stood here before him held his best and worst memories. It was odd to see such destruction sitting in these beautiful surroundings. But it was Trevon’s land to do with what he saw fit and he saw fit to do nothing with it. It reflected his goal, complete destruction. His life had held only one meaning, revenge, but now there was Violet.”

You can head over to my website and tell me what you think of settings.

Thank you,


Lindsay Townsend said...

Congratulations, Courtney, on your new release! It looks fantastic and I'm sure it will sell and sell!

I agre with you about the importance of setting in evoking mood and atmosphere and in showing the characters' journey through the novel.

Thank you for a super post!

Serena Shay said...

Hi Courtney,
Great post! How right you are, setting is so important to a story. I'm always thrilled to read a story where I forget where I really am, because I've gotten pulled into the stories setting.

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Courtney, welcome. Setting is vital to a story. Congrats on your new release.

courtneybreazile said...

Thanks Lindsay Serena and Savanna :)

Bekki Lynn said...

Hi Courtney --

I seem to always forget about setting. I'm so focussed on the characters that I have trouble seeing beyond them.

Writers like you need to keep reminding me.

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Ah, lovely! Your excerpt is utterly intriguing, Courtney. I really like what you've said about the setting being like a character, and I completely agree. :)

Jane x