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Writers on Writing: Selected Quotations

SETTING


To avoid confusion that leads to disinterest, you must let your reader know immediately where and when the story is taking place. You can go back in time or leap to the future, but remember to take your reader with you. Lou W. Stanek

When you choose setting, you had better choose it wisely and well, because the very choice defines—and circumscribes—your story’s possibilities. Jack M. Bickham

If the setting is very significant, you should know it well and weave details carefully into the fabric of events. If the setting is not very significant, do not burden your reader with unnecessary details. Too much description can get in the way of the story. Robert DeMaria

No matter how you small it down, people want to read about Southern California. Who the hell cares about Prince Georges County, Maryland? James M. Cain

I have always tried to keep the settings of my books as far as possible within the confines of my own experience. Ngaio Marsh

Environment includes surroundings, conditions, and forces within that environment. Setting is the more immediate surroundings of a story or a character and may be anything from a town to a telephone booth. Elwood Maren

I wonder why my books are so where dominated. It has been said I am a cozy (crime fiction subgenre in the Agatha Christie mode) , so perhaps that has something to do with it. Cozies are addicted to their well-defined familiar home base, and do not hanker after the exotic, the corridors of power or the underworld. As a general rule, they prefer livng in villages or small towns. Elizabeth Lemarchand

Many writers make use of their hometown or the various places in which they have lived. And why not? These are the places one knows best. Robert D Maria

Generally, in a novel, the convergence of a single figure or group of figures in a bare unpopulated landscape foreshadows a grim outcome…. Mary McCarthy

For most novelists the art of writing might be defined as the use to which we put our homesickness. So powerful is the instinct to memorialize in prose—one’s region, ones family, one’s past—that many writers, shorn of such subjects, would be rendered paralyzed and mute. Joyce Carol Oates

The great novelists of the past and the breakout novelists of today employ many approaches to setting, but all have one element in common: detail. A setting cannot live unless it is observed in its pieces and particulars. Donald Maass

Almost anything drawn from “real life”—house, town, room, park, landscape—will almost certainly be found to require some distortion for the purpose of plot….Wholly invented scenes are as unsatisfactory (thin) as wholly invented physiques or characters. Elizabeth Bowen


This page was last updated on: Tuesday, January 22, 2008

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A. James Fisher
Dept. of Political Science & Criminal Justice, 146 Hendricks Hall
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro, PA 16444
e-mail: jfisher@edinboro.edu blog: http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com

								

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