Settings Adds Dimension

This month in our WordsmithSix blogs, we will be writing on the topic of settings.

Settings Adds Dimension

Rory C. Keel

The setting most often is thought of as only the backdrop to a story. However, many times, the surrounding landscape, or a single small item that is touched or seen may be a pivotal point of change for your character.

History and culture are essential in the setting. Whether your story is placed in ancient history or in more recent times, your characters will have an extra dimension that allows them to come alive to the reader as they interact with the culture of the time. Even future or fantasy genres have a culture and history. History and culture help define who your characters are.

Climate and geography play a big part in the setting of a story. Is it winter or summer? Are your characters in a forest or relaxing on a sandy beach?  The climate may determine how your character will dress. Geography will dictate a person’s activities and how they might react to challenges. Running from a bear, or being stung by a jellyfish while swimming, may even change a plot’s direction.

The setting of a story includes the “When” and “Where” of a story. It brings depth to your characters and fills your story with richness.

Gone, Not Forgotten

Outtakes #19

 Gone, Not Forgotten

I opened DEAD BY NIGHTFALL, the final installment in the DEAD BY trilogy, and read the sweetest memorial to a favorite author. Beverly Beaver, known to her fans as Beverly Barton, had passed away.

Beverly Barton was an award winning New York Times bestselling author of more than fifty books. She had over five million copies of her books in print in fifteen different languages. Her family referred to her writing as her dream career. I’ve read many of her books. She was a master with writing series novels. I would get hooked on book one and then watch the bookstore shelves for the next novel. I was a fan, but I never wrote to let her know how many hours of reading enjoyment she provided me. I never thanked her for teaching me about writing. While we did not meet, her writings gave me insight into improving my own work.

You see, Beverly Barton crafted memorable characters. Her heroes are men with pasts, full of flaws, and searching for redemption. They never excuse their mistakes. Instead they accept responsibility and move forward. They will give their lives to protect those they love. In like manner, heroines are the epitome of the line from the old song, “I am woman, hear me roar”. Her women have strength combined with a softer, nurturing side. They can survive without a man in their lives, but when they meet the man, they commit themselves to the relationship. Like their men, they have flaws, but they accept their imperfections, and grow in spite of them. I learned from her works that villains do not have to have a redeeming quality. After all, true evil does exist in this world.

Beverly’s settings are perfection. She writes of rural towns and mountain communities. Her characters thrive in world capitals. She has the knack of moving the good and the evil seamlessly from a private fortress in the United States to the perverted dens of iniquity in Europe, to Asian locals, and to the south Pacific Islands.

She made me believe what I don’t believe. Through her settings, characterizations, and description, I came to accept the existence of empaths, clairvoyants, and healers. She didn’t force me to believe; instead she created a path that allowed me to come to terms with the concepts and suspend by disbelief.

This talented author entertained me, taught me, and helped me to improve my craft. I will truly miss her stories and her lessons.

Cait Collins