Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Setting as a Character

“Remember in your story that setting is the other character. It is as important to your story as the people in it because it gives them context and can ideally be used to heighten drama and tension, depending on where it is.” -- Rob Parnell in The Easy Way to Write Short Stories that Sell.
I struggled with one of my early stories. I wrote the first draft, but it didn’t feel right. I tried telling the story from different points of view, but there was still something wrong. Then I moved the participants to a park. That made all the difference. Instead of a woman talking about how close her husband and child were, I could show them interacting as the mother/wife watched the two play soccer. This tale was a story of revenge, and the father -- a gang member -- was killed at the end, but the reader got to see that he wasn’t all bad.

If you’re stuck on a scene, try changing the location to one that provides the correct context to present the action. Not only will the reader learn more about your characters, the change may invigorate your writing and get you over that rut you’ve been struggling to climb out of.

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