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Setting Creative writing
Transcript of Setting Creative writing
Consider the following questions when
you create a setting!
What is setting?
Introduction to Setting
Simply put, the setting of a story is where it takes place.
-> The physical, geographical location of the story.
-> The location in time.
-> The political climate and social conditions in which the story takes place.
But what makes a setting important? Which aspects can we think about as we write?
Aspect 1: Setting as Mood
Authors may use a specific setting to create a TONE or MOOD. Tone is the attitude an author has toward a subject. Mood is the underlying feeling of the story.
The imagery (language that evokes one or more of the five senses) and detail that we use to describe the setting directly affects the TONE and MOOD. As writers, we should constantly think about whether the language we choose to describe the setting has positive or negative connotations. The more specific our detail choices are, the more immersed our reader will feel - and the more trust they will have in us as narrator!
-In "The Veldt," Ray Bradbury uses an exaggerated futuristic setting to present a critical, darkly humorous TONE and a suspenseful MOOD.
- In "A Good Man is Hard to Find," O'Connor describes the family's road trip - including how they navigate the road, what they see out the window, and the people they encounter - to deliberately create a tense, often ominous mood and foreshadow the dramatic ending. For example, immediately before the grandmother realizes she has caused her family to become lost - and before they meet the Misfit and his crew - the narrator states, "The dirt road was hilly and there were sudden washes in it and sharp curves on dangerous embankments. All at once they would be on a hill, looking down over the blue tops of trees for miles around, then the next minute, they would be in a red depression with the dust-coated trees looking down on them...[t]he road looked as if no one had traveled on it in months." Words such as "sudden," "dirt," "sharp," "dangerous," "depression," "looking down" and "no one had traveled..." suggests their isolation and vulnerability, and it implies that something menacing may occur.
Aspect 3: Setting as Thematic Springboard
Most stories can only take place under certain social, political, or historical conditions. The writer’s goal is to place the story in a particular context that will help them to express their message. Detail and consistency is necessary here, as is obeying the "rules" you've laid out for your specific setting.
-In "The Veldt," Ray Bradbury uses a hypothetical future setting to explore the effect that over-dependence on technology might have on human relationships.
-In "A Good Man is Hard to Find," O'Connor uses the changing social and economic landscape of the mid-20th century American south to explore issues of tension between older and younger generations, prejudice, redemption, and desperation.
-In 1984, George Orwell creates a story in which the main character exists within a totalitarian society. Without this political context, this story would not exist.
Aspect 2: Setting as Symbol
A symbol is an object, person, action, sound, or movement that represents something other than itself. A symbol is usually a CONCRETE representation of something ABSTRACT. Symbolism is often used to help the reader understand a complex or abstract idea. Your setting itself can be a symbol! The only primary risk in using a symbolic setting is that it may seem unbelievable or overly stylized. Incorporating strong imagery, original diction, and in-depth characterization will help in a story with strong setting symbolism!
Common symbolic settings include:
Lake/ocean/stream: Cleansing, birth, purifying, etc.
Stormy/bad weather: Violent human emotions
The forest: A place of mystery or evil
A garden: A paradise or haven
Window of an enclosed room: Freedom or lack thereof
Aspect 4: Setting as Conflict
Setting may be used to jump-start conflict in a story.
-In "The Veldt," the children's nursery (which only exists in this hypothetical future setting!) acts as a springboard for major conflict!
-In "A Good Man is Hard to Find," the isolated country roads create a perfect setting for the Misfit to intimidate and dispose of the family.
-In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, the writer places the story on a deserted Island in the middle of the ocean. The boys are forced to engage in primitive behavior to survive. In essence, the setting becomes a type of antagonist (Person vs. Nature).
What is unique about this setting?
Could this story be as effective in any other setting?
How does this setting relate to the theme of the story?
What does the setting look, feel, sound, smell, and taste like?
Do the characters feel positively or negatively about the setting? Why?
What are the dangers of this setting?
Does this setting help to create a specific mood?
What attitude (tone) do I want to express?
What are the common beliefs and values held in this setting?
How does this setting "work" (i.e. social and political systems)?
What is the weather like in this setting?