Let’s Talk About Setting

Setting is where your story happens. It’s the time period. It’s the physical place. You can have more than one setting.

There. That’s the definition. We’re all good, right?

Wrong.

Let’s really talk about setting.

What Setting Does

Setting is the foundation of your story. It is the ModPodge that has an addictive smell (Cough. Not addicted to ModPodge. Look away.) and glues all the story together.

What Happens Without Setting

Your characters float around in nothingness.

Your plot makes no sense. You can’t have hamsters taking over the world if there is no world.

You have no theme. You can’t care about the kindness of strangers if there is no reason for the strangers to need to be kind.

You have no atmosphere. Atmosphere is sexy. It’s the feeling of the story. The ambience.

How Do You Make Setting?

Go in slow. Don’t overwhelm us with details about the Hamster World of Ham-Ham-Ster and its 87 leaders of the Teddy Bear Nation. Establish it. Move on and sprinkle in important details as you go. Be sparing. Only add to overall story.

Figure out what pieces of the setting matter the most. Is it the claustrophobic trees? The swarms of tourists disembarking cruiseships. The smell of blood coming from the old, wooden floorboards? Use those details. Not the kind of coffee your heroine puts in her Keurig.

Make it active. The setting matters as the characters see it, move through it, react to it. Whatever is weird about that place and how your characters interact with it? Focus on that.

Don’t be afraid to go places, to use Google maps, the internet. Do everything you can to get fully into that place.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

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What Makes a Story Awesome

I posted this back in June and I’m vaguely burnt out this week, plus I think it’s good advice, so I’m reposting it. Spoiler: I’m not vaguely burnt out. I’m pretty dragging.

It needs emotion.

Emotional tug and resonance. That’s a big key about what makes a story awesome, but there are a couple more important ingredients that you need to make your story shine bright like a diamond. Thanks Rihanna.

Your character has to have emotions and emotional reactions so that your reader has emotional reactions to what’s going on.

It needs conflict.

There needs to be a want and obstacles to the want.

It needs to be fresh.

When I wrote Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend, I was trying to understand a hate crime that I’d heard about, but I also was trying to write not from the point-of-view of the evil bully or the gay man. I decided to write from the point of view of the ex-girlfriend. It was a different angle. And it was picked up off the slush pile out of thousands of novels and published because it was fresh. And it won a IPPY award because of the same reason.

It needs to be believable.

It may end up being a story about a boy wizard, but it needs to start somewhere real, like ‘What if there were magical people and one of them was evil and killed the parents of a boy. But what if he didn’t die because his mother’s love was the greatest, strongest magic of all? And what if he survived to fight that wizard, eventually?” The what-ifs are a writer’s best weapon. But the premise needs to be based in something we all understand (or want to), which in that case was love.

Do Good Wednesday

So, since I have a tendency to come on people in stress and duress and since it’s my stepdad’s death-i-versary and he died of a heart attack, here is my do good Wednesday idea.

Take a CPR class.

It’s important. It helps. It can buy people time until an ambulance arrives or a defibrillator is there.

This link takes you to CPR classes run by the Red Cross, but there are so many places you can take them.



WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

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HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things!

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WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

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HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!