Friday, February 12, 2010

Setting May Be The Key to Unblocking a Scene

“...setting influences both character and plot.”—John Gardner in The Art of Fiction.
Don’t think this is true? Take a scene in your novel, preferably one you’re struggling with, and change the setting. If it’s currently in a kitchen, move it to a park. If it’s in a restaurant, move it to a bowling alley. Your character wouldn't be caught dead in a bowling alley, you say? Put her there anyway. It should be fun.

I’ve tried this. In one story, I changed the setting and ended up moving a minor actor in the story to the main character—and it worked! A story that was going nowhere became alive. It was quite a revelation. Now if I have a story that I'm stuck on, instead of beating myself up over why it isn’t working as I envision it, I make changes to the setting or characters and see what happens. It doesn’t help every time, but I’ve had enough success that it’s always worth a try.

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