Sunday, October 19, 2008

Character Setting

I need to first apologize for my delay in my continuing lessons. I hope all is well with everyone.


I am continuing on with the lessons. Today's is Character Settings.


Character Settings

•In Bird by Bird, author Anne Lamott explains the importance of setting (set design). “It may help you to know its feel, its temperature, its colors.” (74).¹ She uses the example of “…the clutter and the cracks in the wall belie a bleakness or brokenness in our lives, while photos and a few rare objects show our pride, our rare shining moments.” (75).²

•The space an act occurs in can make or break a scene.

•Let’s put together setting and description. Author Bret Harte in “Tennessee’s Partner” depicts a storm blowing in and creating havoc: “…the pines beside the cabin were swaying in the storm, and trailing their slender fingers over the roof, and the roar and rush of the swollen river were heard below…” (176).³ The scene is set in Grizzly CaƱon near Sandy Bar in 1854 where there are small lodge homes in the wilderness. Harte creates a scene using few words as description. The reader can actually hear the branches hitting the roof of the house and the water gushing past just from this short passage.


1, 2 Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird. New York: Pantheon Books, 1994.
3 Hopper, Vincent. Classic American Short Stories. New York: Barron’s Educational, 1964


I would like to see some of you put together setting and description. I can't wait to see what you come up with! Remember, I do check these posts and I answer back to you, so remember to check the blog often.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Starr,

I agree wholeheartedly with this. For example, in a book I'm currently writing, I describe the grass in a park the following way:

"A slight breeze kissed the plush, over-grown lawn and it sounded like paper wind chimes."

It gives the reader not only a picture, (plush, over-grown lawn), but a sound, (paper wind chimes) so they can hear it.

Everything a writer does like this, gives the reader so much more, therefore making for an interesting story.

Thank you so much for the reminder.

Terri Ann Armstrong, Author/Editor
www.freewebs.com/tarmstrong

Starr Reina said...

Terri,

Thank you for your comments. I love the description you did of the grass; yes, you can certainly almost hear the rustle, so to speak, of the stalks of grass. Great job!

Any others out there?

Starr Reina

Anonymous said...

How does this sound as a description setting?


Outside, Carlos stretched his aching back. Closing his eyes, he allowed his head to fall backward allowing the sun’s rays to warm his face. He took a deep breath and could taste the sea salt in the air. The bird’s chirping and the ocean waves crashing against the nearby rocks brought him a heavy sense of serenity.

His eyes now opened, Carlos took in the beautiful scenery of the mountains that surrounded the restaurant. Without hesitation, his gaze fell toward to sea. The glowing movement of each wave as it caught the sun’s rays entranced him with every stir. It was as though it beckoned him to come and take a dip, leaving his worries behind.

The seagull’s call broke his daze-like state forcing him back into reality. With one more quick glance at the mysterious boxes, Carlos returned to the room that felt more like a prison cell than a basement.


CAV LASTER

DJ said...

A lot of competition here - both entries, by Terri and by Cav, are top notch.

Screenwriting is all about creating a vivid environment with minimal description, so, her it goes...

EXT. CEMETERY - DAY

It's Spring. A bright morning. William Crossley's fresh headstone stands beside weathered ones in the family plot. DING! A rock hits its unmarred surface. Then another.

A dirt road separates this family plot from another, where Oliver is perched atop his sister's newly placed headstone. Beside him, more rocks are lined up to pelt the Crossley name. He wears Crossley's respectable derby and overcoat.

OLIVER - You owe me money, you bastard!

He throws another rock, then tips his hat.

OLIVER - Like the new look? 'Respectable,' ain't it? Compliments of my stepmother.

He whips the next rock. It mars the smooth surface.

OLIVER - Beggars can't be choosers, right? Her words.

Starr Reina said...

Carmen,

Wow! Excellent character setting. I loved it all, especially: "The bird’s chirping and the ocean waves crashing against the nearby rocks brought him a heavy sense of serenity." This character is displayed as almost being one with himself; the sense of peace is overwhelming. You put the character in the perfect setting for this.


DJ, this is also very good. I liked, "William Crossley's fresh headstone stands beside weathered ones in the family plot." I did get confused though. Who died? William or his sister? This is what I'm talking about: "William Crossley's fresh headstone stands beside weathered ones in the family plot. DING! A rock hits its unmarred surface. Then another.

A dirt road separates this family plot from another, where Oliver is perched atop his sister's newly placed headstone."

You've written, "William Crossley's fresh headstone" and to me that says it's his own, then you said, "Oliver is perched atop his sister's newly placed headstone."

Perhaps it's my ignorance, but it confused me.

Great setting, however. Thank you, DJ.

Starr

I'm waiting for others out there! I know you're there. Don't be shy!

David said...

How's this:

There we shared a time together such as I had never known before. It wasn't a time of revelation, visions or really teaching, and it wasn't a time when I asked God for anything other than forgiveness. It was a time of love. If there was a simple way to explain it I might say that I had found a river called Love, and immersed myself in its warm comforting waters. I felt the dirt of sin wash away, the glory of this love sweeping all around me, the embracing power of Love itself. It not only flowed around me, but in some strange way, through me, imparting to me the same power it possessed. Of course, at the time I didn't even think of describing it. I simply experienced it.

David Brollier
http://freewebs.com/sonburst

Starr Reina said...

David, thank you for your comment. To me, that was more of a character desription. I'd like to see that, or another, character in a setting. Let me see what you have!

Starr

DJ said...

Starr,

Re your question about the headstones. It's both, Crossley and Oliver's sister. A murder/suicide. Of course, out of context, I can understand the confusion. :}

Starr Reina said...

DJ,

Yes, that clarifies it. Thank you. I get it now.

Starr

Any one else for comments?

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