Setting - Putting it all Together

Setting - Putting it all Together
Now that you have had the time to read through the four main techniques for creating your settings in your creative nonfiction writing, you are ready to play around with each of them until they become second nature to you.

Let’s take each technique and use the Bumble Bee Story Sketch I introduced in the Setting - an Overview article.

Setting through Atmosphere

In this technique, you will use weather and time to create mood for your scene.

Taking the Bumble Bee Story Sketch, you want to show the main characters mood, which is calm and peaceful. In the beginning of the story, the woman’s personality seems to be calm and peaceful. She is a lover of gardening and wins great awards from her elaborate rock flower garden.

To show this to your reader, you might use sunny weather that is calm with little or no breeze. If you chose the summer as the time of year, you will want to add colors, textures, scents and sounds that reveal summer. Remember, though, you don’t want to mention the sound of the bumble bee because that is what will surprise and upset her. Because the bumble bee is a surprise to her, you want it to be a surprise to your reader as well.

Setting through the World around Us

In this technique, you want to bring this woman’s world to life for your reader from her perspective. To an outsider, a large group of flowers in a rock garden may be pretty, but they are not close to their heart as they are to this woman.

Show how she tends to the garden like loving a small child, or perhaps you can create something in the garden, like a plaque from the city, that distinguishes her from all the other gardeners in her area.

The point here is to use small details to bring out the perspective this woman has so that your readers can begin to understand her.

Setting through Action

In this story, I am using technique number one from this article. The character and her setting is peaceful and she is at peace with it. Therefore, I have to use something to disrupt that peace in order to move the story forward.

In this example, I am using the unseen bumble bee that throws this otherwise very calm and happy woman into a complete panic. The result, in my example, is that she closes herself in her house after having a fit. That moves the story forward because now the reader wants to know more about this woman, as their hearts have been touched and their curiosity ignited.

Setting through a Camera Lens

In this technique, you must choose what the main focus of this first scene is. By establishing the main focus first, you can then choose which camera shots to use in what order.

For example:

Let’s say you want to focus on the initial emotional reaction of the woman to the bumble bee. In this case, perhaps you would start with a long shot of the garden with the woman sitting in front of it with her back to us, the readers.

Next, you could move to a middle shot, where you focus on the flowers near the front of the garden close to her, or you could use a middle shot that captures her peace and serenity.

Finally, you would move to a close-up shot of the bumble bee starting to walk out of the flower before the woman sees it and reacts to it.

Now, what if you wanted to focus on the woman’s need to hide and pull back from the world after this emotional upset. You could start with a close-up of her sitting carefree in her chair. Move to a middle shot where she sees the bumble bee coming out of the flower. Finally pull back to a long shot showing her locking herself in her house and closing the blinds.

As you can see, when you change the angles and distance of what you want the reader to focus on in a setting, you change the story and the way the reader experiences the story.

These, of course, are simple examples using a simple sketch. Use this process of writing sketches to see the different settings you can develop and the results of them. In this way, you will find the best match for your story and help your reader to be involved and hopefully not want to put your book down.

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