Making Your Setting a Power Player

We’re excited to bring you a guest post by the fabulous Christina Farley! Christina is the author of the bestselling Gilded series and THE PRINCESS AND THE PAGE. Prior to that, she worked as an international teacher and at a top-secret job for Disney where she was known to scatter pixie dust before the sun rose. Take it away, Christina!

The setting of your story is one of the power players in your novel. It deserves recognition, time, and most importantly, its own personality.

I’m going to admit that I’m a sucker for traveling. And it doesn’t matter if I’m visiting the local orange farm here in Clermont or hiking through the jungle in Java where I lived for two years. Every place has its own personality and if you can capture that on the page, you’re going to create a memorable and enticing read.

Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Personality

Your setting is just one of your many characters in your book. It should have its own personality, likes, and nuisances. Consider how you want your readers to feel when reading your book because chances are, it’s your setting that’s doing the heavy lifting of this. Be purposeful as you pick the mood. Perhaps it’s homey like my local citrus farm, mysterious because it’s in a shop that isn’t what it appears to be, or the home is cold and heartless because of family dynamics.

Keep On Track:

  • Create a Pinterest board or have a printed collage to review over the images before you begin each writing session.
  • Have a playlist with songs that mimic that setting. Listen to it as you exercise or do the dishes and imagine your world.
  • Keep a running list of evocative and unique words that fit with your setting. Sprinkle them into your novel as you revise.
  1. Conflict

Just like your characters and plot adds conflict, so should your setting. How is your setting keeping your character from achieving their goals? How does it help? What consequences does your setting create for your protagonist? With every scene you write, don’t just rely on the events to make your characters suffer, give your setting a stab at them, too!

Keep On Track:

  • During your revisions, create a chapter list. Then add the setting that is in every chapter. Finally, write down the purpose that setting has on moving the plot forward.
  1. Upside Down

I love it when an author takes something that is so every day and quite boring, only to transform it into something unique and unusual. JK Rowling does this over and over with everyday objects from England and gives them a magical twist. When I was standing on the bridge in front of Château Chenonceau, writing in my journal, I looked down at my pen and wished it could take all the ideas swimming through my head and write them out for me perfectly. Wouldn’t that be the best? That moment ended up being the inspiration for the Word Weavers and Keira’s pen that could bring stories to life.

 

Keep On Track:

  • Create a list of what appear like boring places in your story. Reach out to some writing friends and have a brainstorming session to find the unusual in that setting. You’ll be surprised how powerful a writer’s brainstorming session can be.

Recently, I returned to the setting of The Princess & the Page, Château Chenonceau in France. As I strolled through the halls, I reminisced over the places in the castle I used to create the setting of my book and ways I took things that seemed normal and made them fantastical. You can watch the video of it here:

Wishing you the very best as you delve deep into the setting of your world. Just remember to come back to Earth once in a while.

Learn more about Christina on her website or follow her on Twitter.

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