For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.
Today’s tip – How Setting Acts As Your Story Backbone
A common problem in writing a long story, especially something as lengthy as a novel, has to do with story unity or cohesion. “I have six subplots going, and how do I keep a sense of unity in my story was so many?” A writer may ask. Or: “I simply must change viewpoint several times, but what can I do to maintain a sense of coherent, cohesive story line?” Or (scariest of all): “My story seems to be flying all to pieces and I don’t know how to hold all the diverse elements together.”
Expert use of setting can often provide an answer to such questions.
Setting – especially the concrete, physical setting experienced through the senses of the characters or described in an occasional panorama by the author – can provide a constant, stable, reassuringly familiar backdrop against which all manners of diverse plot developments can be played out.
There are so many works of fiction that seem to be completely integrated with their setting (Moby Dick, The Shipping News, Heart of Darkness, anything set in London or New York)- that their setting actually becomes another main character – often the most interesting one.