Tuesday, April 22, 2014

USING SETTING TO DEEPEN YOUR CHARACTER

Hello Seekerville,

Sandra here.

Did everyone have a wonderful and blessed Easter?

I have Chocolate Velvet coffee in the pot ready to enjoy. I have a beautiful platter of spring fruit, sliced and ready to nibble on. Also, the baker here in the RV park I'm in, bakes the most delicious cinnamon rolls. I had him bake up a separate batch for us. 

photo from www.nellisgroup.com used with permission

Have you ever thought of setting to deepen your character? I tend to use setting a lot in my stories, but I didn't consciously think I was doing so to deepen character, until I went to Mary Buckham's workshop at the Desert Dreams conference earlier this month.  She did an excellent job in showing us how to do that with her examples and demonstrations.

I was so impressed, that I am giving away to a commenter today, a  Kindle copy of one of her craft books on how to deepen character with setting, Writing Active Setting.





Mary Buckham is a bestselling ABA author who writes Thrillers and Urban Fantasy so some of her examples could be graphic, but her method of showing you how to use setting is powerful and a must read.  


What she does is take a simple statement of description and then show you how she would write it to show character.

In LOVE'S PROMISES the setting of Lake Tahoe is not only important in the plot, but is a great setting to show characters as well.


Purchased by Stone Lily Design -  used with permission 



For example in LOVE’S PROMISES, I could write.

Monica stood on the deck watching the sailboat go by. She leaned over the rail and looked into the clear water of Lake Tahoe.  

In LOVE'S PROMISES the setting of Lake Tahoe is not only important in the plot, but is a great setting to show characters as well.  But look how we can involve that same setting to show Monica’s emotions and deepen her character.

Monica glanced at the sailboat skidding across the crystal blue water of Lake Tahoe and leaned against the railing of the redwood deck that hung over the cliff. Thirty feet below, water lapped against the granite stones, a rhythmic sound which normally would have soothed her. Not today. She tapped her foot impatiently and rolled her eyes. 

Can you see how using the five senses help use the setting to show deeper characterization? The sailboat is skidding across the water and the water lapped against the granite stones. The strong active verbs show her restless impatience. We hear the water lapping and the sailboat is skidding across the water.

Here is another example where we see Monica’s property:  We could simply write: Monica drove her Jeep Cherokee up the road. She saw his Bronco. Why was he here early? She saw him across the creek. 

However, if we add emotion and senses the setting of her property deepens the characters and we see their reaction to each other.

Shifting her Jeep Cherokee into gear, Monica worked her way up the steep road skirting her property. She needed to grade an easier drive into the place. She sighed. Another set of permits. 
She crested the hill and spotted a Bronco with government license plates parked at the end of the road. Her heart quickened. What was his motive for coming early? 
Automatically, she set the brakes, released her seat belt, and swung out of the high vehicle. Before her legs touched ground, she searched the area. Linsey wasn’t in the Bronco nor in the near vicinity. Biting her lip, Monica headed for the creek. “Morning.” His shout caught her up short.
She searched the dense brush downstream and saw movement on the other side of the gurgling water. He stepped from out of a clump of brush and crossed the stream looking like an ad from a sports magazine. Disconcerted by her reaction, Monica waited for him instead of meeting him halfway. 


The rough road brings frustration. We crest a hill and spot the Bronco. She asks what his motive for coming early. We see the dense brush and hear gurgling water as she looks for the direction of the sound of his voice. This setting shows off her reaction to seeing the handsome planner again.




In this scene Greg and his friend approach the famous Fanette Island, but instead of an elaborate description, we see the reactions to seeing Monica and her friends. Before this scene, Monica’s friends were in a speedboat showing Monica a beach and had almost ran into Greg and his friend on their sailboat. Sailboats have the right of way and Greg’s friend was rightfully annoyed.

“Do you see what I see?” Carl hollered from the bow where he was trimming the jib sail. 
Greg looked in the direction where Carl pointed. Docked at Fannette Island—or as the locals called it, the Tea House Island—was the boat that had almost run them down. Greg intended to sail past it until he spotted the redhead standing in the stern. His heart picked up speed. Monica Scott. 
“Hang on,” he shouted as he quickly came about. 
“You going to land there?” Anticipation sounded in Carl’s voice. 
Greg nodded. “Forget revenge, buddy. I’ve got other motives for landing.” 
Carl stared at Greg and then at the shore. He whistled through his teeth. 
Greg watched her hand an ice chest to the man on shore. Evidently he’d been piloting the boat. Were they involved with each other? Another woman appeared and, with relief, he recognized who they were. The couple he’d seen her with at the South Shore Club. 
He tacked closer to shore. Monica noticed him then. He waved and had to chuckle at the look of surprise on the faces of all three of them. Monica grinned. Good. She recognized the humor in the situation. 


I didn’t do this as well as Mary Buckham does, but I think you get the idea.  You can not only see the sailboat approaching Fannette Island, but you feel their emotions. You also see that a situation becomes a source of humor which is characteristic of our hero.


photo by Michael on wikimedia used with permission




Julie Lessman sent me a couple samples of her writing that uses setting to show character development.

Excitement pulsed in her veins like the bay beneath the keel. Heart swelling with pride, she watched Bram straddle the tiller, so incredibly solid and male and tall. He emanated a strength that swirled heat in her belly as much as the wind swirled the waves, and when he tossed a grin over his shoulder, her heart soared along with the sea gulls overhead. “Alcatraz at your service, milady,” he shouted, sandy hair lashing in the breeze like a tawny-haired pirate who had truly pirated her heart. She clapped her hands in delight as the island loomed with its Cape Cod lighthouse, rising from the sea like some sinister presence growing before their eyes.

Can you see the ship, the San Francisco Bay and the island of Alcatraz? But you are also seeing the hero and learning some of his characteristics as she compares them to the setting.









In another scene, Julie shows character in the setting.


Marcy stood at Mrs. Gerson’s kitchen window, in bleak harmony with the rivulets of water that slithered down the pane. It was a slow and steady rain, endless weeping from a gray and dismal sky, and Marcy felt a kinship with it. It showed no signs of letting up, much like the grief in her heart over the loss of her husband. A silent mourning over a spouse who was still very much alive, but whose love was as cold and dead as any corpse.

Can’t you feel Marcy’s  grief as the rivulets of water slither down the pane?











We also have some great articles in our archives with more examples of how to use setting to deepen your story.  Scroll down  the list on the right to the word Settings and several posts will appear.


The first article that appears is written by me and describes how I used setting in LOVE'S REFUGE and other books I wrote.





Janet Dean  wrote Setting Isn't Just Time and Place.  Janet does an excellent job in using her settings in her historical novels. She explains many examples in Courting the Doctors Daughter.



Can any of you give examples of how you used the setting to deepen your character? Please put it in the comments and you'll be in for a drawing to win Mary Buckham's book.

The craft book is obviously for writers. I know we have a lot of readers aboard also, so I have a surprise for you also.  Kindle version of LOVE'S PROMISES is free today on Amazon.


And please all of you join me on my blog tour.  It has been so much fun. The bloggers have been excited about featuring LOVE'S PROMISES and have asked some really fun and interesting questions.   If you are just starting the tour today, no worries, it isn't too late to check them out.  Just click on the button below and travel with us on a fun blog tour.  



96 comments:

Marianne Barkman said...

Thanks, Sandra...downloaded Love's Promises! Great post, and love the coffee and cinnamon rolls.

Amber Stokes said...

Great post, Sandra! You know I love how atmospheric your stories are. :) I think a story's setting can really be used to demonstrate a character's emotions in creative and visceral ways. Here's an unedited snippet from my current WIP, Morning Glory, where Felicity and Helen (sisters) are in a marshy area by a lake in the Cascade mountain range of Oregon:

“I see the way you look at him.” Helen’s statement was as cold as the snow crowning the mountain. Felicity shivered, unsure of how to respond. Helen didn’t give her a chance, anyway. “I’ll tell him.”

Felicity’s head came up. Disdain practically dripped from Helen’s nose as she looked down from her perch, but it was the unspoken agony lurking in the ice blue of her eyes that shook Felicity. “Please don’t...” Felicity couldn’t finish the thought for the reedy fear catching and tangling her words.

A hawk screeched from overhead. Felicity startled at the sound, but Helen didn’t even blink. “Don’t think I won’t...”


***

As for the blog tour, yes, please do join us, everyone! We've got reviews, author & character interviews, and a special "Taste of Lake Tahoe" giveaway - all happening this week! :)

~Amber

jorielovesastory.com said...

Hallo, Hallo Seekerville!!

And, a warm hallo to Ms. Leesmith!

Bless the Seekerville link being included with your lovely blog tour Press Kit! It was just the spark of a reminder that I needed to remind me to get my tail into gear & drop back regularly to talk to all the lovely Seekers! I honestly think the hourglass cannot possibly be right as so many months have slipped past me since I launched by blog to when I used to regularly read/visit Seekerville! (& a handful of other lovely blogs!)

I wanted to write a longer reply but I am afraid my eyes will not hold me to my keyboard! Therefore, I shall return lateron today & write a proper comment on such a beautiful post! I am thankful to be your tour stop for *Earth Day!* Such a lovely conversation we had about green publishing & environmental concerns!

May everyone who alights on Seekerville be mindful of the trees & the environmental in which we all hold so dear to our hearts! Look for my little note about Earth Day underneath our conversation! Truly, everyone ought to hug a tree once in their life to receive the warmth of hallo in return the tree gives freely!

Rock on, Seekers!

I have missed you!

Ms. Leesmith & Jorie's conversation about "Love's Promise's" & a special Earth Day focus on Green Publishing!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I love establishing settings, but you know me, I like my small town, everyone knows everyone settings, the tight community that messes up and heals on a regular basis.

So when I'm creating a setting, I want the pastoral "a soldier would love to come home to this" kind of feeling.

It doesn't have "action" per se, but it becomes its own character in the series, taking on a life of its own. I started doing that early on because that's the kind of book I like to read.

Jan Karon's "Mitford"....

Debbie Macomber's "Cedar Cove"...

Brenda Minton's "Cooper Creek"...

And I'm a total dryad "tree" person. We have lots of trees around the house (helping the house grow mold each year!!!!) and a 6 acre woods out back, and I nurture my Norway maples to grow and bring us more shade. I'm a shade lover....

And the kids here climb trees all the time, it's a hoot to see them dangling WAY UP THERE.... So we're doing our part in the tree-hugging department.

Sandra, thanks for this! You make me want to recycle even more stuff.... (I won't mention that we had two dumpsters here last year for the major house/roofing overhaul... Wait. Three dumpsters. Hangs head..... sighs....)

Or eat another bunny!!!!

Jackie said...

Thanks, Sandra! My WIP involves a baker. I love bakeries and all the yummy treats.

My problem with setting in a bakery is I have so many allergies it's hard for me to smell which makes it hard to describe the smells. Sometimes I Google what something smells like. (Maybe I should have kept that tidbit to myself.)

Thanks again!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi MARIANNE, The cinnamon rolls are good, but they aren't as good as yours. smile

Have a great day.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thank you so much AMBER. Folks AMBER is the one who set up the blog tour. She does such a wonderful job. And she helped me with a glitch on my post.

Love the snippet.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi JORIE, So glad you joined us here and looking forward to being on your blog today.

You won't believe all the questions JORIE had. Very thought provoking and interesting.

Speaking of hugging a tree. At Lake Tahoe they have sugar pines and if you put your nose close to the bark of the sugar pine it smells like sugary vanilla.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Morning RUTHY, I can just picture all those children in those gorgeous maple trees you have out your way.

And you can pass another bunny this way. Chocolate would go good with my coffee. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi JACKIE, you are too funny. No that is a hoot that you google smells.

I get reminded all the time from my brother-in-law, who is my go to person for computer stuff, and from Tina, that google search is out there.

My brain just never thinks of it. But google search is amazing. And hey, if that works, then use it.


Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, Sandra! So wonderful that you got to hear Mary B speak at Desert Dreams! I'll be putting her new book on my "wish list!"

Setting can really enrich a story---and you can keep it from being one long string of dull description when you weave it in to reflect a character's thoughts or feelings or somehow otherwise impact the story. Thank you for the reminder!

Glynna Kaye said...

JACKIE -- How do you word your Google inquiry to find out how something smells? I have a situation like that in my current book--need to know how something smells that I've never been around. :)

Glynna Kaye said...

What I like about YOUR book settings, Sandra, is that you know so many of the details that smack of authenticity. You've been to the places, the events, and absorbed the landscape, the atmosphere--then weave that into your stories.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi GLYNNA, Thank you for the compliment. I do love to bring the setting alive because it is alive for me. That is why I so need to go and visit places. However, most of the time the story evolves from the visit in the first place. smile

You do a great job with settings as well. I so feel like I am in Canyon Springs when I read your stories. And you have a new release this month too Pine Country Cowboy is a must read. smile

Mary Hicks said...

Great post, Sandra! I love a book with good setting —puts me right there with the characters and I can lose myself completely in the story.

I'm a stay at home person in reality—but when the writer gives me great mind travel, I'm a happy camper!

Sandra Leesmith said...

I hope you will all drop by the blog tour. You will recognize most of these talented bloggers,
Jorie ,
Kav ,
Julie and
Sherida are on board today.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi MARY H. I agree. I love a great mind travel also. I hope you have a great day.

Connie Queen said...

Great example Sandra.

I never use setting to its full potential. It's normally an afterthought. I can see where it can deepen pov and bring out the color to your story.

Thanks for the reminder.

Piper Huguley said...

Love those cinnamon rolls Sandra! But even more so, this is a great post about setting. It's good to remember how the setting can amplify the senses and deepen characterization. Well done! Thank you for letting us know about the blog tour--I would love to see how you did it all!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi CONNIE QUEEN, Mary Buckham said not to worry about using it in your first draft, but to go back during revisions and deepen the use of it. Sounds like good advice. If you try to incorporate everything while composing, it stifles the creativity. (For me anyway)

Happy writing.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi PIPER, Thank you and yes, go on the tour. It is really fun.

I bet you are still flying high with your news that you are a quarter finalist. woo hooooo. I'm so excited for you.

Happy writing.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Happy Tuesday, and thanks for the book Sandra. And for the heads up on the the Mary Buckingham book. It sounds great!

Jeanne T said...

Sandra, this is fabulous. I always have difficulty making the setting either more of a character in the story or using it to better convey emotion. The examples are super!

i will look for an example of my attempts in my writing and hopefully post it later. :)

Jeanne T said...

Oh, and thanks for the coffee and cinnamon rolls. My favorite way to start a day!

Jackie Smith said...

Thanks for the info about your freebie.....will download it and also tell 3 friends about it!

MMMM those rolls are delicious!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks TINA, You can get all three books of the series. Each book covers a different aspect of using setting. They are very nice.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi JEANNE T, I do use setting already, but found Mary's examples helpful in showing me how to do it more consistently and mindfully. Sure hope this helps you.

Yes, the cinnamon rolls do taste yummy this morning.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks for sharing JACKIE SMITH. I hope you enjoy the story.

Happy reading.

S. Trietsch said...

Thanks Sandra especially for the helpful examples! Need to put more setting/emotion in my writing!

Stephanie

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks STEPHANIE, I 'm glad this helped. Mary's workshop really opened my eyes too.

Happy writing

Janet Dean said...

Good morning, Sandra! Loved the luscious cinnamon rolls! Just the scent alone makes me happy.

The lovely photos and word pictures take me back to our visit to Lake Tahoe. What a gorgeous setting!

Thanks for the excellent examples of the power of setting to reveal character. Like Ruthy, most of my settings are small towns but they don't need to be exotic or gorgeous to ground readers and reveal character if we're aware of the potential they have. Thanks for the reminder, Sandra!

Janet

Sherri Shackelford said...

Wonderful post, Sandra! (I happen to adore Mary Buckham. I met her in Seattle at a conference. She is delightful.)

Cara Lynn James said...

Great examples, Sandra. Setting is always important to my writing and I love it in the books I read as well. I like to feel apart of the setting along with the characters.

Myra Johnson said...

YAY, thanks for the book, Sandra! I know it's going to be another good one!

Thanks also for sharing these great tips and examples about using setting to deepen our characterizations.

I remember learning a long time ago that you don't have your character looking out a window without seeing something that somehow enhances the story. Maybe it brings back a memory, or reflects the character's mood, or reveals a new plot problem. But they shouldn't just stand there looking out without a reason.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi SHERRI, Then you know how much fun her workshops are. She is really fun and gets the audience involved. I like that when I go to a workshop.

Happy writing.

Crystal Ridgway said...

Lovely post, Sandra. Setting is such a wonderful way to give our characters depth. I can't guarantee that this is word for word correct, because I'm writing this comment from my smartphone and not able to reference to the laptop at the moment, but here's a bit from one of my stories:

Aster set the lantern on the hall table and ran her fingers over the metal base. Tears trickled silently down her cheeks. With a sigh, she lifted the chimney, puffed out her cheeks with air, and blew. The flame blinked out, sending the room into darkness.
Inky black, to match the hole in her shattered heart.

As much as I would love to have Mary B's book, I don't have an ereader, so please don't put my name in the hat.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi JANET, You and RUTHY do a great job with small town settings. And I think they are just as important if not more so in showing characters as the natural settings are.

Glad you like Lake Tahoe area. It is spectacular.

Happy writing.

Mary Connealy said...

In The Kincaid Brides series the cavern is very much a character...however I have that character be to each person what THEY want to see in it.
To Ethan it's ugly and evil, very much an almost living malevolent villain.
To Julia it's a cave of wonders.
To Seth it's a haven, a place his fevered mind can rest and be at peace.
To Rafe it's a danger he can't control.

Mary Connealy said...

I love setting books in Texas but one of the reasons I keep going back to the northern Rockies is because those mountains and the harsh weather give so much opportunity for risk and drama.

In The Husband Tree, pushing that herd of cattle over 100 miles of mountain pass is the story. That pass, the approaching winter, rock slides and cliffs and water and grass. All ARE the story and how the characters react to all of it.

Mary Connealy said...

Did you all know that The Husband Tree is the only book I've written without a bad guy?

The subplot of Wade and Abby has a bad guy, but in The Husband Tree that trail and the coming winter are the suspense elements.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi CARA, Thanks. In the settings file there is a great article you wrote on historical settings. I will put a link to it here. You always do such a great job with your settings also. I love how you transport me into that era of time.

Importance of Setting by CARA

Mary Connealy said...

If anyone's read Phyllis Whitney and her gothic romances the way she sets up a remote spooky setting is second to none.

Which makes me think of Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier's class gothic and Manderlay.

Wow those ladies could write a setting that is a character in and of itself.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi MYRA, Great tip. Thanks for sharing. There are so many ways we can use the setting to enhance the plot, the conflict and the emotions, not to mention the character development.

You do all of the above so well.

Folks, Myra has two new books out this month too.
Myra's books
And one is on sale for $1.99. woo hoo

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi CRYSTAL, What a terrific example. Wow, you nailed it. Thanks for sharing. I so felt your heroine's pain.

Happy writing.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi MARY, Yes, your cavern was definitely a part of that story.

BTW I listened to that story on audio. I didn't like how the narrator did Julia because she made her sound so little girl when I KNOW your women characters are STRONG.

LOVED the story though. And I could picture the caverns as you wrote about them. They are rather spectacular and definitely need to be part of the story.

Sandra Leesmith said...

MARY I LOVED the Husband Tree. The setting in that story really does show how you use the setting to move the conflict and plot. You did a great job.

However, my favorite part of that story is the beginning. When she was burying her husband. The way you handled it tickled my funny bone.

Sandra Leesmith said...

MARY, I love both those authors. They were authors I grew up on. And you're right. The suspense elements in Daphne Du Maurier's novels are so heightened with the setting.

Thanks for sharing the memories.

Missy Tippens said...

Sandra, thanks for this great reminder and for the examples! You've inspired me to go back and do better on the draft I'm working on.

Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

No lie, I wrote myself a sticky note last night while I was writing to remind myself to tighten up the setting in my scenes. And then here it is today! Perfect timing, Sandra! :)

Jeri Hoag said...

Thanks Sandra, sometimes I get so wrapped up in my characters I forget how the setting can add to them. I see now that is another tool I could use. Thanks for the download as well I can't wait to read it.

Jeri

Myra Johnson said...

Oooh, thanks for sharing my Amazon link, Sandra, you clever girl!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi MISSY, As I mentioned earlier, Mary Buckham advised writers to go ahead with their first drafts and then go back and put in the setting in a more active manner. So you're still good to go. smile

You always do a great job with setting. I always am so into the setting when I read your books.

Myra Johnson said...

Mary, I used to devour Phyllis Whitney books! Loved 'em. Just loved 'em. On one of our vacations in Hot Springs several years ago, we visited this terribly disorganized used bookstore, and I combed every single shelf gathering up all the Whitney novels I could find. There were a bunch!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi ANNE, That is so cool. I love the way timing works out like that. Our guardian angels keep us in line. smile

Happy writing.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi JERI, So glad this reminder helped you out.

I hope you enjoy Love's Promises.

Happy writing and reading. smile

Mary Connealy said...

I have a gothic romance on my computer which was inspired by Phyllis Whitney.

It was so fun to write.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh MYRA, I want to come raid your library. I do love her historicals.

Meghan Carver said...

Talking about setting always makes me think of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. When we read it in high school, everyone else in the class thought it was sooo boring. But I was like, cool! He takes an entire page to describe a turtle sunning himself on a rock. Okay, that may be a little much in today's market, but when I read that book, I could feel the grit in my eyes from the dust blowing in my face.

Anyway, in my current story, I have a scene where my hero and heroine are tromping through deep snow. He's crashing through with his sturdy boot-shoes, and she's worried about her fashion boots. Is that what you mean? I would love to do more with setting. Thanks for the tips.

Myra Johnson said...

Sadly, Sandra, I don't have them anymore. We must have given them away during a move sometime. :( How stupid is that!!!

Sherida Stewart said...

Sandra, your setting descriptions always make me feel like I'm there, which is what I enjoy.

Mary Buckham presented her workshop at the Emerald City Writers' Conference which I attended. I agree...she is great!

I've used gusts of wind and storm clouds on the horizon to foreshadow problems for my characters, but now I'm learning to go even deeper.

Your blog tour for LOVE'S PROMISES is such fun and a virtual trip to Lake Tahoe. Thanks to you and Amber for including my blog in your travels!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi MEGHAN, Sounds like you have a great start with the snow scene. Think of ways to tie in their emotions in the descriptions of snow. Tromping through snow is a great setting. Put in all five senses. The crunch of snow under the boots. Or the silence. The crisp smells of newly fallen snow or lack of smell I guess it would be.

I remember Grapes of Wrath. Like you, never thought it boring; that is for sure.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Awww MYRA you are breaking my heart.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks SHERIDA, You are toooo kind.

I am enjoying the blog tour. I love your teatime theme. My dad's wife was from England and they always had teatime. She would be ecstatic. smile

Wilani Wahl said...

Sandra,

Thank you for this post. I found it very helpful and have printed it off for future reference. Plus I also downloaded your book. I have been to Lake Tahoe several times and love to read books that are set in places I have been.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi WILANI WAHL, Thank you. I hope you enjoy Love's Promises. I also hope the helpful hints help in your wip.

Happy writing.

Debby Giusti said...

Great examples, Sandra, and a delightful blog! Love how you weave emotion into the setting. Thanks for showing, not just telling us how it should be done!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

First, I want teatime.

And naptime.

I think both are tragic societal losses and should be recouped ASAP.

Second, I love The Husband Tree... Because I love Belle Tanner to death.

Mind you, I did load a shotgun this year to KILL AN INVADING ICICLE CHARGE....

sigh.

Clearly the icicle knew it was out-gunned and simply melted into oblivion.

But that's why I love Belle. We act... and eventually we think.

As long as no one DIES, we're both okay.

I love "Primrose Lane" type stories, I'm hearth and home to the core, it's kind of ridiculous, really, but SO FUN!!!!!

Little towns.

Swept sidewalks.

Hard times.

Sweet romance.

Cute kids.

Dog.

Cat.

Kittens.

Horse.

I'm a happy camper!!!

DebH said...

SANDRA
I love the settings in your books. They really put me there in your story. I've downloaded Love's Promises on a previous free day, but have been saving reading it as a reward for reaching a writing goal (which hasn't happened yet *heavy sigh*)

working on my Killer Voice MS. going way too slow because I think I'm trying to be perfect instead of just dumping words on the pages in a free flow. :(

I will however, keep in mind how I can use the water setting to add to the suspense. I've already done it a little, but I know I can work it more. I appreciate the examples you've given. Examples always help me greatly.

Will go have a look-see through what I've written just in case I have something to share.

SEEKERVILLE IS AWESOME!!!!!

just sayin...

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi DEBBY, Thanks girlfriend.

Happy writing today.

Sandra Leesmith said...

AHhh RUTHY, You can bring setting nostalgia in a blog comment. Sweet.

And you would love Spain. They still do siesta. The whole town, city, everything shuts down in the afternoon for nap time. Now i understand my hubby so much more because it is always nap time in the afternoon for him.

I love that because then I have writing time. smile

So if you come visit, you can have nap time and then I'll serve you proper tea when you wake up because my dear Suzanne taught me how to do it proper English.

DebH said...

MARY C
I love the Husband Tree. aw, heck, I love all your books I've read (which isn't even half of the ones you've written) - but that's beside the point. I love how you use the mountains as a character. I'm a mountain girl at heart (says the girl writing an ocean suspense *yeesh*).

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi DEBH, Thank you for "just sayin"

And like Mary Buckham said, don't worry too much about the refining until you finish the first draft. Just get that creative process of the first draft finished, then you can go back and put in the killer voice, the active setting, etc.

Happy writing.

Sandra Leesmith said...

DEBH an ocean suspense sounds exciting. Then you can go to the mountains to recharge. smile

CatMom said...

Thanks, Sandra - - loved these examples you've shared with us today. Another area I really need to work on!

YUM, these cinnamon rolls are wonderful!

Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi PATTI JO, Thanks. I love cinnamon rolls even in the afternoon. smile

Glad these tips helped out. Happy writing.

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, Sandra, this was SO much fun to read because I absolutely LOVE seeing authors incorporate setting into their plots, especially when I get a glimpse into books I'm dying to read like Love's Promises!! Great excerpts, my friend, making me salivate all the more over a book I have to wait to read since I have Carol books to judge and three endorsement books. :|

And speaking of setting, you sure set the stage well for this blog with Nellie's cinnamon rolls and chocolate velvet -- YUM!!

HUGS,
Julie

Crystal Ridgway said...

I just wrote this in my WIP and I'd appreciate if you all would share your opinions on if the setting adds depth to my character. FYI, Rate is the hero and Olivia is his eight year old neice that's spent her entire life in a saloon.

The heavy gray clouds hanging over the cemetery seemed to press the weight of the world onto Rafe's shoulders. He'd been told they were broad, but right now they seemed skinnier than a toothpick, unable to hold up to the heavy reality that his sister was dead and Olivia was his, heels, corset, and feathers.

I tried to entwine the setting and the hero's emotions, but I'm not sure if it has the desired effect. What do you all think?

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi JULIE, Yes, you are the master of using setting for characterization. Thanks for the compliment because that means a lot to me. smile

Glad you enjoyed the cinnamon rolls.

Happy writing.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Yes CRYSTAL, the heavy gray clouds do emphasize the emotions Rafe is feeling. And the cemetary is appropriate for grieving the death of his sister.

I like the corset and feathers adding to the way he feels about Olivia. You prepared us by telling us her age, but does the reader know she is only 8?

Great writing.

Crystal Ridgway said...

Yes, I made sure to mention her age in the scene. Thanks, Sandra, for your input!

Tanya Agler said...

Dear Sandra,

Thank you for the blog about setting. I'm writing a series set in a fictional town & this made me think about whether I describe the outdoors enough in my present WIP although I describe the outdoors more in my previous WIP during a picnic scene and during a scene with the hero, heroine and heroine's young son.
Thanks for the thought provoking blog and especially the examples.

Terri said...

Sandra, excellent post. I have trouble with setting. It plagues me, so I have to be very cognizant of setting or I let it slide. Thank you for the wonderful examples and your great giveaway.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi CRYSTAL and you're welcome. smile

Do you have critique partners? Maybe ask them to look at setting specifically on the next round of crits. Sometimes it helps to have specific things to look for .

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi TANYA, A small town is your setting and will have just as much impact as the outdoors if used to show the aspects of emotion, characterization, etc. RUTH LOGAN HERNE and GLYNNA KAYE do a terrific job with small town settings. Check some of our posts on setting in the archives. You will get a lot of great ideas.


Thanks for joining us and happy writing.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi TERRI, As Mary Buckham suggested in her workshop, go ahead with your first draft, and then go back and specifically, focus on setting. You have more than you think--smile.

Happy writing.

Chill N said...

I love a strong setting, and always marvel at writers who can create one and make it so real to me I would swear I can find it on a map. Even better when the character is shaped by what he's experienced in that setting. Even better when the way the character describes something is shaped by that setting. That's the kind of book I have trouble surfacing from :-)

Don't enter me in the drawing, Sandra. I just downloaded Mary Buckham's book, based on your recommendation.

Thanks for "Love's Promises"! Wishing you all the best on the blog tour.

Nancy C

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi NANCY, Thank you for the compliments. I'm like you in that I like the setting to be an integral part of the story.

I'm glad you downloaded Mary's book. I think you will find it helpful.

I hope you enjoy Love's Promises too.

Happy writing.

Natalie Monk said...

Wonderful post, Sandra!

Several contest judges have encouraged me to bring out the setting more. Here are my opening lines.

Blane Roeper jerked awake to the nudge of a boot in his belly.

He raised his head from his elbow and squinted up at the dark silhouette of a man backlit by the sun. A flash of gunmetal grabbed his focus real quick-like.

The pistol twitched. “Get up.”

Disoriented, Blane took in the lush green forests rushing by on either side of the rattling log train. Honeysuckle’s cloying perfume stirred haunting memories.

Must be in Mississippi already.


Love the examples you used! Nearly running the hero over with a speedboat! Ha! Makes me excited to read the book!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh NATALIE, What great use of setting. I love the contrast of the forest, speeding train and smell of honeysuckle. You did a great job.

Glad you were able to pick up some useful tips.

Happy writing.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Well its time for Glynna's post to pop up.

Thank you all for joining me today and making this a fun post.

Keep writing and keep on tweeking those precious drafts you've written.


Janet Kerr said...

Thanks for your great post on Setting, Sandra.This is an area I have been studying.
Jan

Christen E. Krumm said...

I love this! Just what I needed this week! I've been struggling with atmosphere and setting in my story!! Thanks tons!

xo,
Christen
ChristenKrumm.com

LeAnne Bristow said...

Hey Sandra! I'm a little late (it's been a crazy few days at work!) but I just wanted to say thanks for the post. I hadn't realized how great setting could be! I'm so sad that I missed out on the chocolate velvet cake.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi JANET K, I'm glad the post helped out. It would be fun to hear about all you have learned in your studies.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi CHRISTEN, Glad this post helped. Looks like you have the setting in your photo. Very romantic. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi LEANN, Hey I found some cake in the refrigerator. I'll send you over a slice. smile

Yes, it is amazing what we can do with setting and a little bit of tweeking.