Friday, February 13, 2009

Setting The Scene

We've had some incredibly beautiful weather here in Virginia of late, and now I'm itching for spring to peek around the corner. I love warmer weather, particularly when it's accompanied by wind and a stray thunderstorm. Those are the days when I find the most inspiration for writing.

But beautiful weather doesn't just inspire me, it helps me create a setting for what I write. Fireflies In December wouldn't be quite the same if it were really set in December. There's something about the summer heat - complete with cicadas, crickets, and hot, sleepless nights - that makes Jessilyn's story more real. I've had people comment to me that they could feel the heat while they were reading, even though we're in the middle of winter. That just goes to show how important setting is. It transports a reader into the story. It may be one more piece to add to the novel-writing puzzle, but it's an important one. Taking a reader to a place they can feel adds depth to the characters and their plot.

Including small details in a story can make all the difference, bringing believability and relatability to fictional characters and stories. And it's a part of writing that requires little research. We can all observe our surroundings. When you write, don't forget to include the chirping birds, the tinkling wind chimes, the rumbling thunder. They can bring a story to life.

And that's what makes fiction feel so real.

I want to add a quick P.S. here to thank C.J. Darlington for her hard work on an interview with me on her website, She had some terrific questions, and made the interview tons of fun. Thanks, C.J.!


Ethan M. said...

Oh yeah. I seriously felt that heat. In those first few paragraphs of the book...If I may quote from the book "To top it off, here in the South summers are long and hot and sticky." Reminds me of getting out of the swimming pool on a blazing hot day and plopping down on some crabgrass. *Blech*

Just saw Fireproof! It's awesome! Watch it now!!!

Jennifer Valent said...

Yeah, I'm not looking forward to the heat of summer, but spring sounds pretty good to me right now.

Haven't seen Fireproof yet. I'll have to check it out.

Ethan M. said...

Oh yes. Fireproof was awesome. And yeah, some spring weather would be nice. I'm sick of freezing my rear off.

C.J. Darlington said...

Well, the interview wouldn't be anything if there wasn't an interesting author to interview! LOL

Great responses, Jennifer. I appreciate your taking the time. Thanks!

Jennifer Valent said...

Thanks, C.J. See you in a couple days!

Rachel said...

Setting the stage...hmm?... That was me for the past few weeks. I started the novel with dialogue, knowing I was to come back for an opening. My mind chewed on some ideas here and there, and it was like God dropped the idea right into my heart! Perfect. It makes me think of that verse- His thoughts are higher than our thoughts! It was definitley His thought, for I would never come up with that on my own. I observed that when I try to force things, it's blah.

Anyway, one thing I noticed when I read your beginning is how immediatley I identified with it. Not only with the characters but with the setting. For instance, when you wrote about cicadas, I instantly thought of my wedding.

Prince Charming, candlelight, and cicadas- the perfect recipe for romance! No, really, the summer we got married coincided with the seventeen year cicada ambush. Every seventeen years, the red-eyed bugs emerge from the ground and infiltrate western PA. Behind my parents house were woods and all day and all night, you hear this high whistling noise; it was creepy.

So, I guess its safe to say that a good story is not only believable but even prompts relatable memories. Sorry, if I grossed anyone out, but I had to share :)

Jennifer Valent said...

Love your wedding story, Rachel! I have plenty of cicada memories, too. That's why I put them in the book, and that's why setting can be so effective. It can be a very personal touch to a novel.