Setting by Donna

About ten years ago I left the place I’d spent all of my 37 years to move to Colorado. There is a wide emptiness when you leave Texas. It is almost like it is intimidating you to stay. The miles and miles of nothingness in west Texas stretch on long before you ever see mountains. I think it’s meant to make you give up and turn back.

When I made the move, and the trip, there was this woman sitting in a gas station somewhere along the way. Just a single gas station on the interstate in the middle of all that flat nothingness. I went in to pay her for the gas and she looked up from the novel she was reading. The picture on the novel was of a woman standing on a tropical beach with her shirt falling off. She stared at the reader with a seductive, over the bare shoulder look, while being clasped to the muscle bound, bare chest of a chiseled cheek pirate. There were so many differences between the woman on the cover and the chubby, bespectacled woman holding the book. So many differences I wouldn’t know where to start. Maybe I’d start with the fact the reader was in this store miles from anyone remotely looking like that man on the cover and there were definitely no palm trees in sight. But the book brought her a little closer to somewhere else beside a gas station in the middle of west Texas still hours away from any sign of the mountains.

Setting takes the reader away from where they are and puts them squarely in the place of the novel. Maybe it is that beach setting of the woman in the gas station's romance, or maybe it’s somewhere in one of our novels--a California beach town, or a dystopian futuristic world where the sky rains down fire, or the court of Henry the VIII, or the dark woods of East Texas. So this week we’re going to talk more about setting—why we chose the settings we did and how important they are to the stories we write.

I hope you’ll come along on the journey.

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