Write…Edit…Publish (WEP) is a permanent bloghop posting every second month. Check out our program for 2017 in our sidebar and Pages above. We usually post three times between bloghops–winners’ announcements, guest posts and up-coming bloghops. Submit your name to the InLinkz list to join us each challenge. WEP challenges are free, open to all. If your entry catches our eye, you will win a $10 Amazon Gift Card or a winners’ badge.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

#WEPFF - WINNER J LENNI DORNER TALKS SETTINGS & HOW IT AFFECTS CHARACTERS . . .

Hello again,

In The Dark was J Lenni Dorner's winning entry for the WEP  - October Halloween Challenge. I hope you've all had a chance to read it, if not the link will take you there. 

Today, as our guest, he's writing on settings and how it affects your characters.

Take it away J Lenni Dorner!

When asked if I'd write a guest post I thought, "Sure! What will be my topic?" I devoted myself to settings that become characters, so that seemed like the best well from which to draw. I hope to inspire you on your writing journey!

The most important function of any setting, or any item in a setting, is how it affects a character. 

There's a sunrise. It's the most beautiful sunrise ever seen. Hues of orange and yellow drift into blue as night is vanquished from the sky. You know what? That's not the quality writing publishers (or most readers) are looking to buy. Give us a character who was blind and is experiencing a sunrise for the first time. Or a kingdom that was cursed to darkness for twenty generations and let that sunrise be the first sign of freedom. That's getting closer. Do more by having your point of view character feel something because of the sunrise. Don't just tell me Jane felt happy. Show me. Make the reader feel like they're sharing the experience.

 A popular example of a great setting is the arenas in The Hunger Games series. Those of you who read the books know that those arenas are monsters. Yes, President Snow is the main antagonist. But the arena tries to kill Katniss. There are passages that discuss players who have died because of an arena. It's a person-versus-nature element.

 Now imagine if The Hunger Games didn't have an arena. Katniss and Peeta are sent to modern day New York City and have to outlive their opponents. Would the books be as popular? There are plenty of books about a NYC character figuring out how to survive and thrive there. Taking away the arena changes the story. That is a great example of a setting that is a character. The reader is presented with a place they've never imagined before, and that place offers an emotional challenge to the point of view character.

 Your writing journey might be different. Perhaps your setting is a well-known location. I'll use New York City as an example again. Rockefeller Center presents a myriad of emotions for characters. Has that location made your character reminiscent of watching the tree lighting with their family, all of whom were killed this year? Is it the place where she fell on the ice and a McHottie picked her up, held her close, and whispered, "amateurs should stick to the outside lane" before skating away? Maybe there's a bench here where his great-grandfather ate lunch every day after coming to this country to escape the concentration camps. Or the character has to go this way to get to work at NBC, but is allergic to pine and thus looks like Rudolph all winter long.

Loui Jover; Pen and Ink, 2013, Drawing "the red umbrella":
Saatchi Art
 Each of these are examples of how a setting can affect a character. It isn't about Rockefeller Center - it's about what Rockefeller Center means to your character. So go ahead and let the rain fall on that dark and stormy night, but be sure to make the reader feel like it's something they're experiencing through your point of view character. Maybe a shivering puppy who hasn't eaten properly in days, is soaked to the bone, and has been ignored by the world huddles under a massive tree for shelter. A lonely young character lost her dog and has come to the Rockefeller Center's tree to wish that Sprinkles comes home. The rain turns to fluffy flakes of snow as the two are reunited.

 I have farmed potatoes. But I've never had to grow taters to survive on Mars. Yet, while reading Andy Weir's "The Martian," I felt like I had. That's another great story with a setting that can't be swapped. Mark Watney wouldn't be as compelling if the book were "The Idahoan." A story where the majority of the population is in favor of spending billions of dollars to help one farmer out doesn't seem plausible. But put him on Mars and it works.

So I encourage you to take some time with your settings. Find the sights, smells, textures, tastes, and sounds that make this place unique to your story. Use the setting as a tool to reveal traits of your character. Let it be a challenge or a comforting friend. Give the reader a reason to care about your setting (to the point that there would be a trending Twitter riot if Hollywood tried to put your characters elsewhere). It will pay off.

I'm J Lenni Dorner, winner of the 2015 Youthful Frights and Adult Fears WEP Halloween Challenge, and author of "Preparing to Write Settings that Feel Like Characters" (Amazon, Smashwords).


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J Lenni Dorner is guest posting - the subject is settings #WEPFF Write…Edit,,,Publish @YolandaRenee & @DeniseCCovey http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2015/11/wepff-winner-j-lenni-dorner-talks.html


J Lenni Dorner talks setting and characters at the #WEPFF Write…Edit…Publish. @YolandaRenee & @DeniseCCovey http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2015/11/wepff-winner-j-lenni-dorner-talks.html

COMING NEXT!

A guest post by Alex J. Cavanaugh
'How to Write Science Fiction'
just in time for
December's Challenge - Sign up Dec 1st!




28 comments:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to guest for us today, J Lenni. I love reading all I can on settings and character. This is great!

    Denise :-)

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  2. Thanks for having me here today. I appreciate the opportunity.

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    1. And it's lovely to have you here, JLenni!

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    2. Hi J Lenni,
      Now that we have it all sorted the attention will be on the post, as it should be. Thanks for your patience, and thanks again for the post!

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  3. Wow, that's really interesting. Thanks for the tip.

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    1. Glad you found it interesting Chris. It's certainly a help when writing settings.

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    2. You're very welcome. I hope it helps you in your writing endeavours.

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  4. As a big fan of setting as a character, I enjoyed this post immensely! Thank you for sharing such valuable insight!!

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    1. You are very welcome. I hope I inspired you.

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  5. I love settings that become a character in the story, and The Hunger Games presents a great example of that. This was a great post!

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    1. Thank you so much. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

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  6. Fascinating. And a clarification of half-formed ideas which have been milling aimlessly around in my head. Thank you so much.

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    1. I'm so glad I could give a push to your ideas!

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  7. Congrats again on winning the WEP challenge! This post reminds me that I need to get back to my novels, they have been brewing for a while. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and reminding us that the human factor adds depth to description.

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    1. Thank you. You know... it is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). A great way to increase your motivation is to sign up and write along with others. Never stop noveling!

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  8. Thank you for sharing your insights, and the reminder that a setting is only as good as the reader engagement it creates,

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  9. I agree. Settings come alive because of characters' interactions with it. :-)

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    1. I know that was certainly true in a story of yours that I read!

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  10. Good points here. I get this. The setting, when done well, can become a character in the book. Where the story is taking place can alter the meaning and even direction of the story. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I'm glad I was able to communicate it clearly. You're very welcome. Happy writing!

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  11. A fabulous post J Lenni. I love a book with an incredible setting that is as much a character as the humans. The house in Poltergeist comes to mind.

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  12. Congratulations on the win, J Lenni, and thank you for this fantastic post! I love reading a novel where the setting is as much (or more) of a character than the people in the tale. I read a lot of gothic horror and most of the time the house is a character, a menacing, seething character that changes the tone and personalities of all who enter. Setting is powerful and this is wonderful reminder! Thanks!

    Jen

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    1. Thank you so much. Yes, houses are excellent characters to bring to life in stories.

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  13. What an insightful post!
    Thank you for sharing this J. Lenni. There are lots of things to chew upon... and it sparks some ideas...

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  14. I'm always glad to be the spark of an idea! Thanks.

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