One long, hot summer I worked in a non air-conditioned dry cleaners. Around noon when the last cleaning loads finished, everyone left because of the stifling heat – except for me, the lowly counter girl. I sat on a stool and, to pass the time, read the owner’s paperbacks between customers. I remember being startled when a white-haired gentleman thumped the counter. I looked up from page 78 of The Wolf and the Dove and blinked. I couldn’t fathom what this man wanted until he thrust his claim ticket at me. Yes, I must admit: I was so engrossed in my book I missed the door buzzer and failed to notice my customer until his counter slap brought his presence to my attention.
I’d been transported to Darkenwald, in Saxon, England -- out of Kathleen Woodiwiss’ imagination.
Last night I curled up in my favorite armchair and let my present world slip away so that I could ride shotgun with Stephanie Plum. We cruised the streets of Trenton, New Jersey, in yet another ill-fated Honda CRV. Again I was transported. It was like experiencing a pleasant dream.
James N. Frey in How to Write a Damn Good Novel II says, “As a fiction writer, you’re expected to transport a reader. Readers are said to be transported when, while they are reading, they feel they are living in the story world, and the real world around them evaporates.”
I’ve often wondered how you cause your reader to slip into your story’s world? James N. Frey suggests using vivid details.
Chrystal McCoy says, “Setting is a great way to allow your reader to become part of your story.”
Janet Evanovich in How I Write gives these tips about setting:
· “Provide the setting and atmosphere information as close as possible to the beginning of the book.”
· “Place the character for the reader.” Mention the where and when of the character’s life.
· “Use your atmosphere to cause the reader to feel something.”
· “Engage all the senses when describing a place.”
Noah Lukeman in “The First Five Pages” agrees with using all FIVE senses to bring a setting to life. He also states: “Most importantly, have your characters interact with your settings. . . . The ultimate goal of your characters’ interaction with the setting is to have your characters actually affected by the setting.”
Summing up: An intriguing setting can be the launch pad of a great story. Here’s my list of some of the best settings I’ve read. Can you guess who created them? Give it a try. I’ll post the list of their authors in comments later this week.
13 Fantastic Fictional Places I’d Like to Visit (And some of the reasons why)
1.) Alagaesia. I want to find an egg for myself.
2.) The Land of Ingary in hopes of spotting a moving castle
3.) Bree, Rivendell or Rohan Who wouldn’t want to meet elves and hobbits?
4.) The Well of Souls, provided I could choose what creature I became
5.) Earth-Sea. I’ve wanted to attend Roke for some time.
6.) The Crooked Magician’s house in Munchkin County. The Patchwork girl, Ozma and I could be great friends.
7.) The twin cities of Reality and Illusion in the Kingdom of Wisdom.
8. Damar. I’m sure one of my long-lost relatives came from the Hillfolk.
9.) Angelshand or Kymil. I’m fond of wizards and mages.
10.) Ansalon. Flirting with danger, I’d like to study magic with Raistlin Majere.
11.) Hed or Yrye. I’m pretty good with riddles.
12.) TirAsleen. I’d like to help Thorn.
13.) The city of Hagsgate, to see how Molly’s getting along.
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