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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Where You At?

There are authors who talk about setting as a character. I'm not one of those authors. :-/

As a reader, I skim or outright skip description especially of the setting. I have zero interest in reading it. Just ground me enough to know where I'm at and get me to the characters and the story. I can visualize my own airplane, my own living room, my own town without the author. :-) All I need to hear is gourmet kitchen and I have a mental image ready to go. Two words and the author has told me all I need or want to know.

Also, I get annoyed when the author's vision of the scene conflicts with my own. :-) I don't care that it's her world. The more the author repeatedly goes in and describes the hero, heroine, the room, the world, the clothing, the more irritated I get if it disturbs my image. Well, I also get irritated because it bores the hell out of me. Charles Dickens, anyone? He was paid by the word and it shows with the unending description of inconsequential stuff.

As a writer, I have to make a conscious effort to go back and add description. I probably still don't have enough for some readers, but believe me, what I've put in is more than I personally like or enjoy.

With the exception of the books I wrote which were part of series and which had the location dictated by the needs of the series, my stories could take place pretty much anywhere. Okay, so Jarved Nine and the Old City are kind of distinctive and those stories can't take place in another location. That's different. :-)

I do try to use the city to impact the story in some way. For example, snow in Minneapolis in March or having my hero hike in the mountains for the story that took place in Seattle, but setting isn't a character for me.

That said, my hero and heroine do influence where the story happens.

I just mailed a proposal to my agent yesterday. The book takes place in South America and the h/h live in Los Angeles. I wanted them to live somewhere else because I've have so many LA set stories. The Blood Feud world is all LA and I have several other proposals that either take place there or have a hero and/or heroine from there. As I get that this h/h are from LA, too, I'm like enough already.

It doesn't work that way, not for me. My characters are in charge, always. My heroine insisted on Los Angeles. As I researched her educational background, I discovered one of the really good graduate schools in her field is in that area. She came for the university and she stayed.

That said, the vast majority of the story takes place in South America and that's new for me. And the setting actually will have impact on the characters and the plot. It already has with the heroine starting in the capitol city, which is in the mountains, and her ending up in a small village in the rainforest. Elevation and humidity, respectively.

But even so, I wouldn't go as far as to say the setting is a character. I don't understand that, not even when I read the authors who claim their setting is a character. Is there an atmosphere? Sure. Would I call it a character? No. I don't even understand what those writers mean when they say it.