Friday, December 24, 2010

Craft Book of the Month: The First Five Pages

I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas Eve. Our house is abuzzing as presents begin to appear under the tree and the smell of baking fills the air. The kids are counting down the hours.

So, what better time to discuss Noah Lukeman's Chapter 18: Setting. No word of a lie, this is the one part of writing where I feel the greatest challenge. I tend to get wrapped up in what my characters are doing and saying, and setting gets left on the backburner. But, if Noah Lukeman is to be believed, I'm not the only one:

It is amazing how often setting is neglected, employed only as necessary. This is such a mistake because, when brought to life, good settings can add a whole new dimension to a text, a richness nothing else can... At its best, setting itself becomes a character, interacting with the other characters.

" settings whatsoever, settings described in a way that stops the flow of the narrative, settings that hardly change, settings that never come to life, settings with which the characters never interact, and settings that never affect the characters at all."
Among the solutions he lists are: bringing settings to life by the tiniest details; drawing on all five senses to describe a setting; using climate to define a setting; and having characters interact with a setting.

Lukeman ends this chapter by exhorting writers to train themselves to look for details in settings, everywhere they go. Go on, he says, "Practice right now, in the room you're in. Find ten unusual details--it doesn't matter how small--and write them down."

It's great advice, as usual. But, sorry, Mr. Lukeman; I've got to dash. Got a party at the other end of town. But I promise I'll look for those ten details at Uncle John's and Aunt Barbara's house. And who knows? If I do a good job, perhaps I can slip in some unusual detail in my new novel's first draft?

Happy Holidays, everyone. I hope you enjoy the company of family and good friends over the next few days. I'll be back on Boxing Day for Microfiction Monday, in between preparing for a "Boxing Day Tea Party," something we're doing this year to make my mother, visiting from England, feel at home. Till then, Merry Christmas!

1 comment:

If comments be the food of love, comment on. Give me excess of them... (With apologies to The Bard)