Thursday, June 3, 2010

Location, Location, Location

When I'm writing, I try not to scamper off aimlessly. I try to have some sort of advance plan for a scene before diving into it so that I don't send my characters footling around through space. But, well, sometimes they go where my fingers take them without my quite knowing.

Yesterday, as my character footled around, because I was a tad short on plans for that scene, she passed through the garden -- because Amira loves gardens, apparently -- and found herself in the library where she finally got around to running into that character I wanted her to run into. Then, as they were about to leave the library, something occurred to me, "I've just introduced the library. I can use that later!" That made me very happy.

I think on some level I would prefer to limit the number of settings I use in my book. Maybe it's because I don't want to confuse the reader by tossing in a lot of rooms and places that aren't important for them to remember. Maybe I don't want to keep track. Maybe it's the theater.

I tend to create stories similar to the way plays are created. In a play, there cannot be too many settings, because there is not room for many sets. The wings would fill up with the periaktoi or flats or whatever else you're using for your sets, and then there wouldn't be room for actors and actresses, and then you've got a problem with your play as there's no one to perform it. So, maybe the manner in which I tell a story has been impacted by the time I've spent working in theater.

But, regardless of the cause, I think it's true that I tend to limit the number of settings I use.

Anyway, since I've introduced the library as a setting, it now means that I can go back to it in other scenes. I can say, "Hey, remember that time Amira was in that place with that one person. Well, now these other people are there doing this thing. So you don't need to get distracted by the walls, just go look at the thing. No, seriously, go look at the thing. It's interesting, I promise." It will save me the trouble of introducing a new place to the reader, and it will save the reader the trouble of having to remember another location.

So, now I can add the library to my list. This makes me very happy indeed.

Do you like to use a lot of settings? Are you very specific about where your scenes take place?


  1. Oh, what a great post! I might use this subject for a post over on the Lit Lab because it's a great thing to think about.

    For me, a lot of settings make the book feel like it goes faster, and less settings make it feel more established, but neither one is better in my opinion. It just depends on the story. A library is a great setting!

  2. That's an interesting thought! It would be very handy indeed to have the setting already established, as to avoid going through the description all over again. Hmmm, I wonder if I can eliminate some unnecessary settings....
    Thanks for the great post!

    Oh, and sorry I haven't been commenting lately! May was insane for me, so I'm just barely getting caught up in the blogs I follow ^_^