Monday, August 16, 2010

Guest: Barri Bryan: The Importance of Setting

Today's guest is fellow Classic Romance Revival author Barri Bryan. Barri's latest novel is a contemporary romance, A Second Splendor. Barri will give away three ARC's of A Second Splendor on the tour. Leave a comment for a chance to win.

Welcome, Barri!

A fictional setting is a framework. All details related to time, place and action fit within this framework. Properly understood and applied a setting becomes the under girding for a fictional narrative.

Setting is created by the use of sensory images and phrases that appeal to the five senses. These images do two important things. One, they help the reader to picture the place, the period in history, the year and even the time of day that action and events are occurring, and two, they help to create the feeling or mood of the story. (Pictured is the Brush Country of Central Texas - Setting for A Second Splendor.)

A major function of setting is to lend realism to the story's action. The more in depth the description of the setting, the more believable the events of the story become. Without a detailed setting, stories lose much of their credibility.

Setting can reveal character. The traits that make a character unique are dependent on environment as well as circumstance. Even in rare cases when the characters are far more important than the setting, that setting will still have an impact on the characters and their actions.

The tension between a character and the environment can play an important part in shaping action and tracing controversy. It can also reflect a character's inner tensions and strife.

Setting can reflect and sustain social surroundings by revealing etiquette, mores, customs and codes of conduct. It can emphasis the harmful results of squalor and poverty, or stress the incapacitating consequences of riches.

Atmosphere is closely connected to setting. It generates feelings and impressions that cannot be attached to any concrete cause. It is developed through the use of expressive language that has sensory appeal. Atmosphere should be set early in the story.

A plot is always connected to a specific time and place. A setting that is animated and visualized intertwines with events and actions to become a part of the plot.

The point of view that a writer employs is determined to a great extent by time and place. The point of view for a modern, fast paced murder mystery that takes place in a large city will not be the same as the point of view for a sweet, slow-moving love story set in the eighteenth century in a small town in Middle America.

Time is a part of setting. The fictional overview of time in a story is threefold. The first view is concerned with the period in history in which the story occurs. The second asks the question, how long does it take for the action in the story to occur? The third inquires into the passage of time as it is perceived in the story.

Whether you choose to write about the magnificent, the isolated, the ordinary or the mystical; if you describe fairy woods, brooding forests, city slums, or lovely landscapes, be aware of this all pervasive fact - your setting is an integral and important component of your story.

Julie Anderson is not happy that her ex-husband is coming home to attend their daughter’s wedding. Max has broken her heart in the past – not once, but twice. Thank goodness she’s too wise to fall under his spell again, or is she?

Max Anderson has some reservations about his daughter’s coming marriage to the son of his ex wife’s business partner. He shows up early and walks into a situation that begs him to intervene. When he does all hell breaks loose.

A Second Splendor is available HERE.


Linda Banche said...

Hi Barri, thanks for coming over. We had some technical difficulties for a while, but everything is fine now.

Celia Yeary said...

Good afternoon, Barri--and Linda. Barri, your post is a very good teaching tool. With all your success in the publishing world, You have much knowledge to pass on.
After characters, setting is always the most important thing for my own writing and novels I read. I want to know where these wonderful characters are in time and space, and a good author--like you--knows how to portray that very well.
Stories set in Texas always interests me, and the Brush Country? Oh, yes, I know about that, even though I live in the Hill Country. That's what's so grand about using Texas as a setting--there are SO MANY different places!
Your novel sounds lovely, delightful, and I'd love to read it. If I don't win one, I'll tack it onto my list--thanks for the great post--Celia

StephB said...

You nailed it! Setting is so important and often times I see it really neglected. It doesn't need a lot of attention. You can use a good economy of words to paint the picture, but you have give it some love. The five senses are excellent for setting. I'm also working on developing my metaphors to help with that.

I'd love to read your book, Barri. I've read a couple of your samples now and I enjoy your writing.


Megan Johns said...

Hi Barri,
Settings are so important for creating a mood and I find that they really stimulate my creative juices. If I can visualise a setting, then put my characters in that environment, I find it will influence the way they interract and behanve and hence the developmnt of the plot.
Great article, really instructive

catslady said...

Very interesting. I'm a reader and not a writer and I'm always amazed at how much goes into the process. I always say it's the characters that are important, but really as you explained it, it all goes hand and hand. Thanks for the insights.

barribryan said...

Thank you Linda for having me as your guest today. And thank you Celia, Steph, Megan, and Catslady for stopping by and for leaving such nice comments.


Sherry Gloag said...

Hi Barri and Linda. I enjoyed reading your post about settings. I love when books (authors) transport me to unknown settings and bring them alive for me. As Megan says, get your settings right and the characters usually fall into it and behave accordinly.
Your blurb is certainly enticing.



I learning about the process of writing. I only wish I could take some of the info and write a book.


Linda Banche said...

Hi sherry, thanks for coming over. Barri is awesome, as you can read.

Loretta, the only way to write is to write. All those books you read started out as first drafts, and no one's first draft is very good. One writer told me that most of writing is rewriting. So, write something. Starting is easy. The trick is to finish it. And along the way, take some courses to learn how to write better.

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Barri and Linda,

Setting can indeed be a character itself, can't it? I love stories that actually sweep me away into the scenery without losing me with extra detail.