Saturday, July 6, 2013

Writing Prompt! Settings...

Setting, in my opinion at least, is one of the most fun parts of writing a story! I didn't understand this when I first started writing. Most of what I wrote was set it some random town that could have been anywhere in America, and probably anywhere in a western country, for that matter. When I went to my first ACFW conference, waaaaay back in 2005 when I was a sophomore in college, I went to a class about setting that was taught by Colleen Coble and some other writers. She said that your setting should be SO integral to your story that you shouldn't be able to change settings without your story falling apart.

Okay, that's a really extreme view of setting. Not everyone thinks that's right. I tend to lean that way for things I write, because it helps me. This is just my friendly disclaimer saying it doesn't HAVE to be that way. =)

So. Setting. Think about it and how it adds to your story. You can use the setting to say so much, to set the mood, almost to be its own character in some situations.

Here's your writing prompt for the weekend. Look at the following setting/genre pairings and think about how you'd write a story with them. Or, for bonus points (haha, bonus points on what I'm not actually write a few paragraphs, maybe the opening ones, for a story using them. They don't GO together per se...It's easier to set a horror story in a dark, creepy haunted house at night on Friday the 13th, but sometimes it's fun to play with opposite settings and see how even THIS can impact your story and make it even stronger. Make sense? Whether your setting makes sense or not, I guess is what I'm saying, it should be INTENTIONAL and it should contribute to what you're doing in your story in some way, even if that's to create a contrast to the events of your story.

Ready? Here you go!

A FAIR (Think bright lights, happy colors, cotton candy, and giggling children). Use this setting for heavy, issue-y women's fiction.

A GARDEN (Think of a city park or something. Peaceful, serene, full of flowers. Maybe there's a river flowing through it an an artist painting something in a corner). Use this setting for romantic suspense or straight-up suspense.

A HOSPITAL WAITING ROOM (Think stark white, blue vinyl chairs, people crying. Lots of tissues.) Use this setting for romance or chick-lit, whichever floats your boat because chick-lit Is. Not. Dead. At least not to me. ;)

So think about it! And if you're feeling inspired and brave, post the opening paragraph for each of these! =)


  1. Ok, this is random and very last minute. :) A GARDEN:

    Elinor's eyes drifted over the vast expanse of lazy clouds floating above the leafy canopy of branches overhead. Somehow, she couldn't see the silver lining, the wishful promise that everything would turn out ok. As if to confirm her gloomy thoughts, the faraway roll of thunder echoed against the hills. Where was he anyway?

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  3. I like it! You've used other things, like the clouds, to give us a sense of mood and feeling, and the reader can feel how UNpeaceful she feels, in contrast to her peaceful surroundsings (like the "leafy canopy of branches")


  4. Alright... So I got carried away with the last one (I chose to write it first and never got past it). This is going to be a long comment. SORRY!

    “Here you go, Aunt Millicent,” I say, handing my great aunt a tissue. I cringe as she blows her nose and collapses, sobbing, into to the blue vinyl seat. I’m not quite sure what to do about this. My ladylike Aunt Millicent is always so insistent that women be… well… ladylike. I pat her shoulder look up at the cute, male nurse who just talked to us about my Aunt Mildred. He looks about as confused as feel, but that’s probably because the news he just gave us would have made most people pretty happy. My Aunt Mildred is no longer on the brink of death. She’s just in the ICU. Okay. So maybe that’s not the happiest news, but when you consider the alternative…

    “Here, ma’am…” Mr. Cute Male Nurse Whose Name Tag Is Turned Around says with a slight drawl. “Can I get you some coffee?” How sweet. She doesn’t drink coffee, but you can get me some… and if you make it perfect I have to marry you, Sir.

    I assume Aunt Millicent remembers herself because she stops her squalling and sits up. She eyes our adorable new friend and quickly examines his ring finger. Oh dear. “That would be lovely. You are so kind.”

    “Milk and sugar?” he says, smiling.

    “Yes, please.”

    “Alright. I’ll be right back.” We both watch as he makes his way across the dingy mint and gray, checkered tile. Aunt Millicent taps me on the arm and smiles. I sigh. This woman is practically a professional matchmaker. It’s not her job, of course, but she can be credited with single-handedly arranging the last 4 marriages in my family…