Thursday, August 16, 2012

Setting the Stage

My WIP #1 began as a dream that is now the middle of the story, and I had to work backwards to figure out how the MCs ended up there in the tale. But I also just winged it when I began writing it. What started as an exercise to see if I could write anything that was novel length led to me cranking out 80,000 words in a month, so I guess the exercise worked.

I'm normally very organized, and as I look back at that experience I'm still a little surprised that I just jumped right into it with no plans at all. Not that there's anything wrong with winging it; there's a wonderful kind of energy that comes from just jumping right in. But I'm finding that there are a lot of things I might (all right, should) have considered, when I was doing all that leaping.

Since then I've picked up a few books on writing. One is called Make a Scene - Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time by Jordan E. Rosenfeld.

The information has been very informative for this new writer, and I've had a several epiphanies as I study it and stew upon the information--especially in conjunction with input from my critique group. One thing that I've been really interested in relates to my work on description and the Show/Don't Tell issue.

Rosenfeld talks about how important it is to set the scene to ground your characters and keep them from becoming talking heads, that it may seem like mere background but is more like rich soil from which your story can grow.

The scene we set can be initally like stage directions for a play. It doesn't have to be perfectly established at first, and you can make notes to yourself--something like your characters being in a specific location like a restaurant with a reminder to yourself to research foods and smells unique to it. Your setting may not come to you all at once because some settings can and should have depth.

**light bulb goes off**

I realized something that could help me with my descriptions--using the five senses. Another 'duh' moment for me, but it was one that really excited me because it seems doable.

How do you set your stage? Are you able to juggle it all in your mind and don't have to take notes? Are you one of those writers who has maps drawn of your fantasy world? How much prep work do you do before you plow into the actual writing?

1 comment:

Canda said...

I like to use pictures I find on the internet, a garden gate here, a sunset there, a tree or flower or rock that appeals to me. They become a leaping point for me. Although they change in a way that would fit my scene they provide something substantial for me to imagine as I write.