Read deep, marcy
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Overview Setting: Ground Breaking
Workshop: An Introduction to Writing for Children and Young Adults
“The strongest writers have always been the ones with a well-defined sense of place……Or a knowing of landscape, as something alive with personality, breathing.” Joy Harjo
Setting grounds a story in place, in time, and in perspective. The reader has an immediate center of expectation, whether or not the writer intends to change it. Are we in a jungle, or on a ship? Are we on an immigrant ship in the 1880’s, or are we on a deluxe cruise ship a century later? To place a large swimming pool on center deck would be considered ludicrous for the immigrant ship, unless now the immigrants are space-bound to another galaxy. Ship denotes a voyage, but the details of the setting will influence what kind of experience our characters are living through.
Either we begin from the inside out by imagining the location of our setting visually and finding the right pieces to fit, or begin from a natural habitat and focus on the specifics that define the unique atmosphere and story questions that impact the characters.
One way to achieve this perspective is to construct a place—“real or invented”—rather than describe it. Choosing specific details enables us to impress the landscape on readers and connect them to the meaning of our world. And to the age of your readers. Ages 4 and up can relate to the space ship in Wall-E. The spaceship to Avatar requires an YA audience and up to fully identify the nuances of its atmosphere.
There is such a variety of possibilities that we can easily get lost in the world-building details and neglect the emotional connections. Or the details can drown out the story unless we focus the view.
Some Setting Functions:
Clarifies conflict: Charlotte’s Web, Witch of Blackbird Pond
Antagonist: Incredible Journey, Julie of the Wolves, Island of the Blue Dolphins
Illuminates Character: Anne Frank
Symbol: Must be repeated throughout the story—Listening Silence
1. For the age category of your audience identify some books that match the above categories.
2. Look over the books you read the most for your proposed age group. Do one of the above categories show up multiple times?
Share: What setting habitats draw your interest.