Writing the right amount of description to evoke a world where characters live and breathe can be a bugaboo for writers. Either we put too much setting in that has nothing to do with anything and the reader dozes off, puts the book down (heaven forbid), or skips to where the story is unfolding. There’s also the flip side of too much and that’s too little. This dilemma could lead the reader to develop the Goldilocks’s syndrome, only reading books that are just right. Heh. I wouldn’t blame them. Would you?
As a writer, I wanted to know how to write settings that would drop my readers smack in the middle of a world they’ve never been to and never want to leave. I was lucky to participate in a workshop taught by Mary Buckham about writing active settings. She has a busy schedule now and doesn’t teach as often. By busy, I mean, she’s writing her own stories and being a USA bestselling and People’s Choice author. Yay! She’s walking the walk.
Anyway, she has a new print and e-book of “Writing Active Setting – The Complete How-To Guide.” It’s a lifesaver for beginning, as well as advanced writers. This has all three of the Writing Active Setting books: Book 1 – Characterization and Sensory Detail, Book 2 – Emotion, Conflict and Back Story, Book 3 – Anchoring, Action, as a Character and More. Plus Mary has added bonus material all on hooks. What I love about this complete guide is everything is in one place. The real winner of the books are the examples from a slew of well-known authors which Mary has deconstructed. Each line is analyzed, so you understand what the author was going for. But she doesn’t stop there, Mary writes a hypothetical first draft and a second draft that the author might have started with, so you can see the progression. It makes it easy to grab hold of the concept and learn how these great authors write active settings.
The following is from the book description of what you will learn:
* Discover the difference between Ordinary Setting that bogs down your story, and Active Setting that empowers your story.
* See how to spin boring descriptions into engaging prose.
* Learn to deepen the reader’s experience of your story world through sensory details.
* Notice how changing characters’ POV can change your setting.
* Explore ways to maximize the setting possibilities in your story.
* Learn to use Setting to quickly anchor the reader into the world of your story.
* Use Setting as movement through space effectively.
* Explore Setting in a series.
* Find Out the most common Setting pitfalls.
These books go straight to the point, putting theory in plain language, adding examples from authors in a variety of genres, and finishes each section with exercises designed to help you work with your Setting in a way that will excite you. . .and your readers!”
USA Today Bestselling author Mary Buckham credits her years of international travel and curiosity about different cultures that resulted in creating high-concept urban fantasy and romantic suspense stories. Her newest Invisible Recruit series has been touted for the unique voice, high action and rich emotion. A prolific writer, Mary also co-authors the young adult sci-fi/fantasy Red Moon series with NYT bestseller Dianna Love.
Mary lives in Washington State with her husband and, when not crafting a new adventure, she travels the country researching settings and teaching other writers. Please visit Mary’s website for more information. To buy the book set, go here: Amazon.
If you want to soar, I highly recommend “Writing Active Settings – The Complete How-To Guide.” Do you have a way of writing settings that you can share?
Till next time,
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Let’s be honest here, as a reader have you skipped over descriptions of settings because the passages seemed like they belong to another story or they were simply boring. But, most of all they took you out of the story. Those reasons could spell disaster for a writer and their story.
Are you writing settings merely to place your characters for your readers? I admit I have. But, I found a remedy with Mary Buckham’s Active Settings Book 1 and 2. Mary is spot on with her techniques and guides you with examples from recent popular authors. She makes you see the difference of a mediocre description of setting to one that’s holy moley is that how it’s done.
Here is the table of contents for Book 2:
1. Using setting to show emotion
2. Using setting to create complication
3. Using setting to show backstory.
With the techniques in this book and the first, I know how to make settings do double and triple duty.
I admit taking a class with Mary you are never the same as when you started. We’re talking about breakthroughs, here. She pushes you to be your best. But, if you can’t take her class get the book. I can’t get enough of her teaching so I got both.