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Friday, May 31, 2013

Writer's Update/Writing Craft: Place and Setting

Best thing about winter:
I get to wear my scarves! 
Wow! So it's been a pretty full-on week for me. Though I can't complain; the girl next door is studying bio-medical science... now THAT'S rough. This week I finished my final Writing Craft assignment, which consisted of a 1,500 word creative piece on 'place as encounter'; my Writing for Professional Practice Assignment, which consisted of a 250 word media release, a 500 word newsletter interview profile and a 500 word opinion piece; and I attended a poetry reading in Melbourne, hosted by the Emerging Writer's Festival, which I plan on basing my final Journalism assignment on. I'm feeling pretty run-down and the winter blues are starting to creep in on me, but I've got one more week of classes before the semester is over and it's going to be great!

So let's get this blog up-to-date with my Writing Craft lecture notes!

Where? Place and Setting

Readings for this week were The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schultz (pages 25-35), The Deadman Dance by Kim Scott (pages 1-5, 7, 9-14), The Easter Hare by Leah Swann (pages 164-176) and The Line by David Brooks (pages 319-321).

For something to happen, it has to happen SOMEWHERE. It isn't possible for something to happen nowhere. Setting can be established by combining the where and the when of the story, and I say 'when' as well here because you could be standing somewhere and then a hundred years later that somewhere is going to be very different. Readers want to be grounded and given a setting; a place for the action in the story to occur. The setting or place in and of itself becomes a type of character and can change what a reader expect to happen next, what mood the piece will have, etc.

Our lecturer went on to explain that a story consists of character and setting (who, where and when?). Eliminating one of this elements could make a story hard or impossible to write or be engaging. So from this, we have a checklist:
- Stories need to have a temporal 'location'. You need to know 'when?'
- Stories need to be 'placed' somewhere in the world or in other worlds. 'Where?'
- Stories need to be populated with 'beings' that the reader can invest in. To be engaging, they probably need to want something.
- Characters need to want something in a specific place and at a particular time.
- The time and place will impact on the things the character wants and the things they'll do to try to get them.

When we're establishing a place, we have to remember that in real life, a setting stimulates all of the senses: sight, smell, sound, touch and taste. Think about what you could bring in from different aspects of your senses to really enrich the scene.

Think of your favourite book or movie. What kind of a setting does it have? Imagine removing the setting from this work or making it only vague and sketchy. What is the effect? 

My immediate thought was Harry Potter without Hogwarts. The story would be so different without Hogwarts. Share yours below.

- Bonnee.

20 comments:

  1. Jaws in outer space--oh, wait, that was Alien.

    You've only got a week left? It seems like you just got there! Enjoy your last week and good luck with your final assignments.

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    1. Time has gone so quickly, it's scary! But I'm really excited for next semester. Thanks as always, JeffO.

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  2. Hiya Bonnee,
    Sounds like uni life is pre-tty hectic!! So's mine at the moment....got heaps of stuff due next week! Not good!
    How have you been?? Im so sorry I havent commented in what seems like forever.....and no I dont really have a good enough excuse to make up for it. But its good to see your doing well. :)
    And to answer your question, I surely cannot picture Harry Potter without Hogwarts! It just wouldnt happen!
    All my love,
    EJ
    :) xx

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    1. Hey there EJ,

      I have three things due on the Queens Birthday, but I'm camping that weekend so I'm getting them done early! Gotta hate the end of semester for that reason.

      I've been pretty well. I hope that you are too. Don't worry about the comments thing, I don't exactly pop over to yours every single day either. It's all good.

      Harry Potter without Hogwarts cannot exist.

      Have a great evening!
      - Bonnee xx

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  3. Yeah. Sometimes the setting can be so powerfully crafted that it becomes another character. lol You just have to be careful it doesn't overshadow the real ones. I struggle with setting, so I don't have to worry about that.

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    1. It's good to know where your strengths and weaknesses are. I used to have a terrible tendency of blathering on about irrelevant things in an attempt to describe the setting, but found that I'd completely overdone it and not only that, but I'd done it badly. Thanks for stopping by Donna :)

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  4. Thanks again for sharing your info! It's very helpful. The Street of Crocodiles is very popular in architecture school.

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    1. It was interesting to read :) Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. Right, setting is so important, but it always amazes me how some very advanced writers can totally draw a reader into a story without even giving a setting until well into a story, I cant! lol

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    1. That's so true... it definitely takes a lot of skill. It is NOT easy to pull off.

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  6. Setting is essential to any story. Thanks for sharing this and I'm visiting from David Powers Blog. Had to check you out when I saw you were an Avatar: TLA fan.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I was unhealthily obsessed with A:TLA at one point... I'm still a huge fan of course. I just got my, uh, addiction, somewhat under control. Thanks for visiting :D

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  7. Good stuff you're learning there :)
    Happy Weekend!

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    1. Thanks Carol! Have a nice day :)

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  8. Just read your post again and I can't believe that you are wearing scarves!!! lol So funny)) We are hardly wearing anything! hot hot and humid

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yesterday was the first day of winter here in Australia... I am so sad! I love summer... that is, I love not getting rained on or having soaking wet shoes every time I step outside. You so lucky!

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  9. AnonymousJune 02, 2013

    So, queѕtion tіme, do I have the chаnсe to ask anything?



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    ReplyDelete
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    1. Of course you do :) Go ahead. (If this is the same 'anonymous' who posted on another post earlier today, I am sorry but your post doesn't seem to actually be there, it only came through in my emails...)

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  10. Bonnee, with all due respect to the girl next door studying bio-medical science, studying creative writing is as difficult. Studying science is fairly easy in the sense that there is a clear system with one correct answer to most questions. Creative Writing is more difficult to study because it's also artistic and subjective. There is no one way to write successfully. Your teachers do their best to teach you the system of creative writing and the "rules" how to do it, but at the end it's up to each student and each writer to find his or her way how to do it. I follow a few scientists and medical doctors who are also writers and most of them will tell you that Science is easier than Creative Writing. So no more underestimating your Creative Writing Program. Personally, I will get an A in Bio-Medical Science but will be lucky to get a B in your program.
    Now back to the lecture of today: The Who, Where and When are covered well in my novels. No problem here. The locations of my novels make them fairly unique. If I'll change the locations, they will become ordinary. Reading about the five smells, I just notice that the "Taste" is missing in my novels. I have to go over them and add more taste.
    Good luck with all your final assignments and the vacation around the corner.

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    1. The bio-med girl is also a writer, but the main reason I don't complain is because she actually does have quite a larger workload than I do... and more classes... and exams. I don't have exams. I agree that there are ways in which creative writing is harder than science though. Being creative can be a very abstract concept.

      I didn't doubt that the setting of your novel would be well established; after seeing some of the things you put on your blog, it's obvious that you thoroughly research the places within your writing.

      Thanks for stopping by, as always :D

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