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Outside My Window: Setting is Important

Overnight snowflakes sparkle in the cold morning sun outside my window and I smile to feel how they brighten my world. Blue, blue, my world is blue but it’s that happy blue where everything seems possible.

Wintering shrubs wear a mantle of white, dressing up their frozen brown branches, now stripped of summer’s green.

And I smile still.

Richard III’s Now is the winter of our discontent  is far from my mind. Instead I’m on Top of the World as the song says and it’s all because of that sun-filled picture outside my window.

A few years ago I heard Andrew Borkowski speak about setting at a conference and this morning I was reminded of the link between setting and story. I was changed this morning by the scene outside my window. In the same way your story setting can and should enhance your words. There must be a deep connection.

Here I’ve summarized the notes I took at that event as they are still meaningful for writers everywhere. As a bonus, above I’ve linked Andrew’s bio on his website. It is hilarious.

My Andrew Borkowski Notes on Setting Etc.

  • Character, plot and setting. You can’t have one without the others.

  • Authenticity transports the reader who needs to know what you’re talking about.

  • Put setting throughout the novel, not all at once. Use all of the senses.

  • Research is ongoing, keep a journal.

  • Author needs to know 10 times more detail than she/he actually uses. 10-1 rule.

  • Do supplementary research as needed.

  • If detail is important, use library. Otherwise use wikis.

  • Setting can vary as to its substance. For Richler setting is the people.

  • Visit your setting on site, if possible.

  • Setting can sometimes be an idea or a person.

  • For an author the most important question to answer is what is his/her book about?

Don’t forget that setting can change. Remember last fall?

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