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Story Element: Setting & Point of View

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Adam Brackin

on 21 October 2015

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Transcript of Story Element: Setting & Point of View


Setting is the time and place of a story.
the physical locale of a story

people's customs-- how they live, dress, eat, and behave
time of day
time period
In other words:

Setting provides a background - a place where characters live and act.
Carefully select IMAGES and details for creating settings that carefully draw the audience in.
1. the formation of mental images, figures, or likenesses of things, or of such images collectively: the dim imagery of a dream.
2. the use of rhetorical images.
3. Psychology. mental images collectively, especially those produced by the action of imagination.
Imagery involves one or more of your five senses (hearing, taste, touch, smell, sight). An author uses a word or phrase to stimulate your memory of those senses. These memories can be positive or negative which will contribute to the mood.
a physical locale that shapes as story's mood is often its emotional aura or quality.
Real or imaginary, concrete or symbolic, a moment or an eternity, setting is the dramatic backdrop for a story.
Why is setting important?
Setting reveals prevailing atmosphere or mood.
If the time or place setting of the story changes, consider how the changes alter the outcome of the story.
Setting mirrors or illustrates internal and external conflicts
Setting highlights potential contrasts between characters or ideas.
Setting can determine the fate of the characters
Setting reflects character and often embodies theme.
Roles of setting:
A mirror to reflect what is going on inside the characters
A mold to shape the characters
A challenge so the character can reveal his or her true self
An alien setting to create a sense of exile and loss
An escape which allows more fantastic and whimsical parts of the character to be expressed.
Setting can be the antagonist
When it causes conflict with the main character.
Two settings may even come into conflict with each other, causing conflict in the characters who must live in them and perhaps have to choose between them.
Setting can help tell the story or backstory
It does this without exposition.
The story is a re-imagining of the ancient Chinese story Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of China. Unlike the original story that was set in a fantastical version of ancient China, the game is set 150 years in a future post-apocalyptic world following a global war, with only remnants of humanity left, along with the still active war machines left over from the conflict. Like the original story however, the plot revolves around someone who forces the help and protection of a warrior, with many characters sharing the same names and roles.
Physical Setting
"Place" in all forms
Type of room or building
Imagery (5 senses)
Geographical Setting
Location, inclulding:
Cultural Setting
The values, ideals, and attitudes of a place:

Physical cultural setting

Non-physical cultural setting

Social standing
Economic class
Religious belief
Historical Setting
Historical Factors can establish a psychological or sociological understanding of behaviors and attitudes:

Time period (Year)
Reign of a leader
Regime of a government
Major historical event
More historical factors:
Crop Yield
Natural disasters
Language & Culture
A note about time:

Clock time can be used to provide suspense or create certain moods or feelings.

Time is an important literary symbol
Seasonal time:

The seasons or span of time associated with a particular activity may be important as a symbol
"Every story would be another story, and unrecognizable if it took up its characters and plot and happened somewhere else..."

--Eudora Welty
Primary source: Prof. April Campbell, Tidewader College

Setting can also create mood, express a tone, or attitude toward a subject or object, and it can affect the way we feel about the characters.

(See the character prezi!)
Now, with supper finished, we retire to the room in a faraway part of the house where my friend sleeps in a scrap-quilt-covered iron bed painted rose pink, her favorite color. Silently, wallowing in the pleasures of conspiracy, we take the bead purse from its secret place and spill its contents on the scrap quilt.

from “A Christmas Memory” by Truman Capote
A narrator may be:
A fictive person devised by the author as a stand-alone entity.
A participating character. The narrator is considered participant if an actual character in the story.
Minor Character. Considered a non-participant if only an implied character or...
Omniscient or semi-omniscient being who does not take part in the story but only relates it to the audience.
The narrative mode encompasses not only who tells the story, but also how the story is described or expressed (for example, by using stream of consciousness or unreliable narration).
The narrative mode (also known as the mode of narration) is the set of methods the author of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical story uses to convey the plot to the audience.
Narration is most simply -- the process of presenting the narrative. It occurs because of the "narrative mode".
Narrative mode encompasses several overlapping elements:

"Narrative point-of-view" is the most important -- This determines through whose perspective the story is viewed. This is the VIEWPOINT.

"Narrative voice" however determines the manner through which the story is communicated. This is the VOICE.

"Narrative tense" (or time) determines the grammatical tense of the story. This is the PAST/PRESENT/FUTURE TENSE
Ability to use the different points of view is one measure of a person's writing skill. The writing mark schemes used for National Curriculum assessments in England reflect this: they encourage the awarding of marks for the use of viewpoint as part of a wider judgment.
I want to be better than what I have been.

I want to hold her. I want to sit her on my lap and read her Christopher Robin and Dr. Seuss. I want to brush her hair and teach her about toothpaste and put Band-Aids on her knees. I want to hug her in the sunset in a room full of puppies while the band plays "Happy Birthday," and watch her grow up into wonderful beautiful cancer-curing symphony-writing adulthood, and to do that I cannot be who I have always been—and that is fine with me, because I realize one more important thing.

I don't want to be Dark Dexter anymore.

The thought is not so much a shock as a completion. I have lived my life moving in one direction and now I am there. I don't need to do those things anymore. No regrets, but no longer necessary. Now there is Lily Anne and she trumps all that other dancing in the dark. It is time to move on, time to evolve! Time to leave Old Devil Dexter behind in the dust. That part of me is complete, and now—

Now there is one small and very sour note singing in the choir of Dexter's happiness. Something is not quite right. Somewhere nearby some small gleam of the old wicked life flashes through the rosy glow of the new and a dry rattle of scales grates across the new melody.

Someone is watching me.

--From "Dexter is Delicious" by Jeff Lindsay
Second-person view
First-person view
Third-person view
Alternating person view

Character voice
Unreliable voice
Epistolary voice
Subjective voice
Objective voice
Omnicient voice

"Such fools we all are, she thought, crossing Victoria Street. For Heaven only knows why one loves it so, how one sees it so, making it up, building it round one, tumbling it, creating it every moment afresh; but the veriest frumps, the most dejected of miseries sitting on doorsteps (drink their downfall) do the same; can't be dealt with, she felt positive, by Acts of Parliament for that very reason: they love life. In people's eyes, in the swing, tramp, trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June."

-Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
TRUE! --nervous --very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses --not destroyed --not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily --how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture --a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees --very gradually --I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

-Edgar Allan Poe, Tell-Tale Heart
usually 3rd person
He started to climb again and at the top he fell and lay for some time with the mast across his shoulder. He tried to get up. But it was too difficult and he sat there with the mast on his shoulder and looked at the road. A cat passed on the far side going about its business and the old man watched it. Then he just watched the road.

Finally he put the mast down and stood up. He picked the mast up and put it on his shoulder and started up the road. He had to sit down five times before he reached his shack.

-Hemmingway, The Old Man and the Sea
The most obvious point of view is probably first person or "I."

The omniscient narrator knows everything, may reveal the motivations, thoughts and feelings of the characters, and gives the reader information.

With a limited omniscient narrator, the material is presented from the point of view of a character, in third person.

The objective point of view presents the action and the characters' speech, without comment or emotion. The reader has to interpret them and uncover their meaning.
I. OBJECTIVE Point of View

The prince slowly pushed open the door; his servant waited in the hall. In the dim light, the prince saw a form lying on a bed. Brushing aside cobwebs, he approached the bed; he left footprints in the thick dust. He looked down at the form, a beautiful young woman; she had long red hair and was wearing on out-of-fashion dress. He stood looking at her for several minutes; then he bent over and kissed her on the lips. She stirred, her eyelids fluttered; then she opened her blue eyes and smiled. "You've come at last," she said. The servant entered the room, and the prince smiled and sat on the bed.

II. FIRST PERSON Point of View

I slowly pushed open the door. In the gloom, I could barely make out someone--or something?--lying on a bed. Brushing aside cobwebs and watching for spiders, I approached the bed. Then I saw her for the first time--the woman of my dreams! She was beautiful--long, thick red hair, fair skin with a tinge of blush in her cheeks. But why was she wearing such a strange dress? Maybe there had been a masquerade the night before and she had been too tired to take off the dress. I looked at her for a few minutes, awed by her beauty and air of innocence. Then, on a sudden impulse, I leaned over and kissed her on the lips. Who knows when I would have that opportunity again? She stirred, her eyelids fluttered; then she opened her blue eyes, eyes so blue I lost myself in their depths. She smiled and breathed, "You've come at last." Sitting on the edge of the bed, I smiled back, "Yes, I have."And I hoped we wouldn't be leaving soon. Then that fool of a servant came in and spoiled everything.


The prince's servant waited in the hallway, relieved at not having to take any risks. Despite his impatience, the prince slowly, very slowly, pushed the door open. He was a very cautious prince; as a child, he never went out in the rain without his boots and umbrella. Brushing aside cobwebs, he grimaced with distaste and approached the bed. He thought of possible dangers. He looked, with admiration and a touch of some other feeling, at a beautiful young woman asleep; he had always found redheads particularly attractive. He was puzzled by her out-of-fashion dress, which looked like the dress his great grandmother was wearing in her state portrait. He stood by the bed for a few minutes, looking around to see if anyone was observing him. No, no one was, he noted with satisfaction. Only then did he bend over and kiss her full on the lips. He was also an unworthy prince. Before he could kiss her again, she stirred, her eyelids fluttered; then she opened her blue eyes and smiled at the prince. She thought he was the handsomest prince she had ever seen. She was in love--again. You must remember that it had been a long time since she had seen a young man. "You've come at last," she said warmly, to encourage him. Curious and bored, the servant entered the room. The prince was sitting on the side of the bed, as if he intended to stay awhile.


The prince's point of view:
The prince slowly pushed open the door. What a filthy room; the dust was so thick he was even leaving footprints; was he ruining his shoes? The servants should be punished for their laziness; maybe beheading one or two would give the rest a proper attitude toward their duties. He brushed spider webs aside; he shuddered at the thought of spiders, disgusting little creatures. He approached the bed; that was one striking redhead lying asleep. It was time to stop and think about his next move. Was anyone around? No? Good. Well, time to act; just standing looking at her wasn't going to accomplish anything. He bent over her and kissed her lips, full. Nice. Maybe he could get in a few more kisses. Just then, she stirred, her eyelids fluttered; she opened her blue eyes and smiled at the prince. "You've come at last," she said. Come at last? What was she talking about? he wondered, as he sat on the bed and smiled back ingratiatingly and hopefully. To his annoyance, the servant entered the room, and disrupted the mood.

The princess's point of view:
Silence and stillness enveloped her, as it had for the last hundred years. There was a slight stir in the air and then the creak of rusty hinges moving. Her sleep was disturbed and she moved restlessly. An awareness of a presence filtered into her consciousness. Was it a rescuer or a danger? Unable to awaken, she incorporated the noises into her dream. The form was hovering over her; time passed. Then the form bent over her; there was a pressure on her lips, a disagreeable pressure. She felt her eyelids flutter; she was waking up at last! Because the room was dimly lit, her eyes adjusted quickly and she saw a prince looking down at her. Her rescuer. Her savior. How ugly he was, and what an unattractive expression he had on his face. How soon could she get rid of him? She smiled and said, "You've come at last." He smiled a rather unpleasant smile, and rudely sat on the edge of the bed, as if he intended to stay a while. The servant entered the room. Nobody important. She returned her attention to the prince.

The servant's point of view:
The prince slowly pushed the door open and entered the bedchamber. The servant, relieved to be allowed to wait outside, edged toward the opening to get a better view. He cursed his bad luck in having been chosen as the prince's valet. The other servants were back at the palace, a clean, warm palace with regular meals. He wondered what Maria was doing now and was she doing it with James? James thought he was such hot stuff since he was promoted to footman and got to wear.... An exclamation from the room caught his attention and he saw with satisfaction that the prince was brushing aside cobwebs. He was leaving tracks in the dust. Guess who would have to sit up tonight cleaning those shoes instead of sleeping? He reflected on the unfairness of life. He was much more intelligent than the prince, more attractive than the prince, more everything than the prince--and yet the prince was going to get a beautiful princess, and all he was going to get was a cold from standing in this drafty hallway, all for a shilling a week and the prince's castoff clothes. He heard a female voice say, "You've come at last." He stepped into the room and saw a beautiful woman, with blue eyes, red hair, and a peaches and cream complexion. She looked at him and smiled encouragingly. That dolt of a prince thought she was smiling at him. As the prince sat on the bed, the servant smiled back irresistibly.
Holes seems to be as much about a place as about the characters. Is that your feeling?
Yes. While every other story I'd written had begun with the characters, to me this story has always been about a place—Camp Green Lake. The story began with the place, and the characters and plot grew out of it. Of course, Camp Green Lake has no lake and hardly anything is green. There once was a very large lake here, the largest lake in Texas. That was over a hundred years ago. Now it is just a dry, flat wasteland. There used to be a town of Greenlake as well. The town also shriveled and dried up. During the summer, the daytime temperature hovers around 95 degrees in the shade, if you can find any shade. There's not much shade in a big, dry lake. The only trees are two old oaks on the Eastern edge of the lake. A hammock is stretched between the two trees, and a log cabin stands behind that. The kids are forbidden to lie in the hammock. It belongs to the warden. The warden owns the shade. When you first start reading the book, however, you don't know it's that kind of camp. You just know that you're going to Camp Greenlake.

Where did you get the idea for Holes?
No, I didn't live next door to a juvenile correction facility. Actually, I never start with a full idea of what I'm going to write. I usually just start with a piece of a character and then see what develops. In this case, I didn't start with a character; I started writing about Camp Greenlake and it developed from there. I suppose the initial inspiration for writing about the camp came from the heat of summers in Texas. At the time I began the book, we had just returned from the relative coolness of a vacation in Maine to the Texas summer. Anybody who has ever tried to do yard work in Texas in July can easily imagine Hell to be a place where you are required to dig a hole five feet deep and five feet across day after day under the brutal Texas sun.
“I guess I’m learning that I don’t know anything about actors…and don’t want to know,” he laughs. “I’m joking, of course. Every picture that I make, I learn a lot from the actors. Those horror movies that I made when I got started - called Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2 - they were about the exploration of what film was, and presenting the world of the supernatural was a great medium for that because you had to present something that doesn’t exist in our world. But at some point in my life, I thought I should start making the types of pictures that I’d like to see, because the films that I saw were not horror films…

“So I started to look for better material, and that attracted a finer caliber of actor, and I learned and I’m still learning how to work with actors and what they bring to a film,” Raimi continues. “And the more I learn the more astonished I am at the wonders they create. It’s all really about them; everything else is just a device, and really great stories are about human beings and their interaction and things they understand. There’s nothing wrong with a great visual. In fact, I love it. This picture is a great chance to combine both. It’s a great chance to make it visually exciting and interesting and still work with a great caliber of actor and a really fine script and a great character. It’s really a film director’s dream to make a picture like Spider-Man.”
To understand Grevioux’s “Underworld” writing in contrast to so many other vampire incarnations including the hit 2008 film “Twilight,” its 2009 sequel “New Moon,” “True Blood” on HBO, all the Anne Ricez vampire novels and the underrated foreign child vampire film “Let the Right One In,” one must understand the source from which he derived his vampire and werewolf perspective.

As a self-professed conspiracy theorist and sci-fi fanatic with science degrees in microbiology and genetic engineering, Grevioux didn’t write “Underworld” vampires with the typical sense of mysticism. Instead, he created them through science in the way he believes they actually could be.
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