Friday, November 15, 2013

Seasonal Settings: Making the Most of the Weather (and other things)

I was talking to a client yesterday and reaffirming what I've probably said before.

A writer needs setting in their books; they also need to use the five senses. If not, the characters are living in some sort of void.

Photo of clouds by: revedavion.com, courtesy of Flicker
I love the seasons. And it's always a good idea to write about them when you are experiencing them. Try tucking these seasonal experiences away until you need them.

If you're writing about summer and the true season (at least in the life you're currently living) is winter, try bringing to the surface your past experiences. They will help you in creating a real setting for your book.

One thing that some writers struggle with is something I call "talking heads." What this means is that the writer gets so caught up in the conversation they forget to reveal where the characters are standing (sitting), what time of day it is, and what the weather is like.

Photo by: blmiers2, courtesy of Flickr
I may be able to see the main character pondering about her life, but I don't see where she is sitting and what is happening around her. I don't "feel" her thoughts. And if I don't "feel" anything (and much of this "feeling" can be found in properly placed senses) I don't care about the character's life.

Real life always has something going on, whether that thing is a slow blowing wind, children playing on the playground, a water tap dripping, or just the sound of the sheets as the main character repositions herself on the bed.

Photo by: Tom Raftery, courtesy of Flickr
None of us live in a void.

When we read any worthwhile book we are not only learning from the dialogue we are learning from the setting and the five senses. A great book makes the most of the weather, whether the weather happens to be brisk, warm, or somewhere in-between; this same writers gets a real clue into the main character's heart by using the five senses.
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