For my entries in the 2012 A to Z Challenge, I will be focusing on writing elements that I find important and that I want to incorporate into my work.
Today, the topic is SETTING.
When and where a story takes place can range from insignificant to vitally important. It really depends on the story.
If I’m creating a science fiction piece, I will probably spend more time on setting than I would with other stories. For a suspense story for example, a setting like “modern day in some unnamed city” might be more than enough.
Fantasy writers can spend a tremendous amount of time developing an intricately woven alternate reality where a zoo of magical beasts exists alongside heroes and villains produced from heavily-branching multi-generational political dynasties. Half of the story can just be getting the reader up to speed on the setting.
In general, I prefer not to do this.
Like with backstory, I typically try to supply just enough information and detail to anchor the story, and then let the characters and plot take it from there.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t value setting or recognize that it is important. Consider what “The Wizard of Oz” might have been if Dorothy had lived in the Bronx. “Over the Rainbow” might have become “Under the Subway” and the munchkins might have morphed into C.H.U.D.*-like beasts.
It’s just that, overall, I tend to lean towards the “Less is More” school of thought regarding what information to dump on my readers, and this applies to setting, too.
What about you? Is setting a critical part of your stories?
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*(reference to schlock ‘80’s horror film): C.H.U.D.