Saturday, November 17, 2012

Setting is Important

Setting is Important

For those participating in NaNo, the month is more than half over, and you should be closing in on your goal.  Even if you don’t make it, congratulate yourself on what you have accomplished!  The courage to start something so ambitious is more important than what word count you have at the end of the month.

Once you’ve completed your work (whether this December or some future month), it’s time to start editing it.  One of the goals of NaNo is to take off the editing filters and write from your gut, trusting in your muse, or the Girls in the Basement or your subconscious to lay a foundation.  Editing fills in the NaNo holes.

You might, like I do, rush through your WIP, scurrying to put down the words before they evaporate.  When I’m in the groove, I concentrate on my strengths, like dialogue and pacing.  I fix my weaknesses in the edit phase.

I’ll be the first to admit, setting is not my forte. Fellow GRRWG members Bronwyn Green and Tanya Eby can write settings like nobody’s business, using it almost as another character and establishing mood, place, and time to anchor me in their stories.  My characters exist in a vacuum, while theirs are full of color and the five senses.  I’m envious and vow to write better.

Besides establishing mood, it’s important to establish societal character.  I never thought about this until I moved from Michigan to Hawaii, probably because I'd never lived anywhere else.  Yes, there are vast cultural differences, but there’s also different phrasing of everyday words.  This is probably obvious to anyone who has lived in more than one place for any length of time.

In the past, there’s been different internet discussions on pop vs. soda and sneakers vs. tennis shoes, but local phrasing goes beyond that.  Accuracy adds flavor to your work.

Following is some of the differences between Michigan and Hawaiian terms.

Grocery cart
Flip flops
Stick shift or manual or 5 speed

Of course, if your setting is another world, you can pretty much call anything whatever you want.

If you want to be authentic, it shouldn’t be hard to get help.  A request to one of your writing groups, Twitter or Facebook will bring a response.  Yesterday’s six degrees of separation has narrowed to three and a half.

While you edit, don’t let setting be an afterthought.  It’s an overlooked tool and can add tremendous strength to your story.

2 comments: said...

And Mahalo isn't trash, even though it's on the cans(it means thank you) and the phrase "you want one beef brah?" is never good (someone is spoiling for a fight)...may the menehunes inspire you-Mele Kalikimaka.

Bronwyn Green said...

Thank you, Cheryl! That pretty much made my night! :)