WisRWA Calendar

Oct 06
2018
WisRWA 2018 Fall Workshop
Mark your calendars for the 2018 Fall Workshop on October 5-6, 2018 at the Grand Lodge Waterpark Resort, Rothschild, WI. Registration is now OPEN! For more information, click the Events tab and choose Workshop.
Apr 05
2019
WisRWA 2019 Write Touch Conference
Mark your calendars for the 2019 Write Touch Conference April 5-7, 2019 at the Milwaukee Hyatt in beautiful downtown Milwaukee. The conference will feature Maya Rodale as keynote speaker, and Lisa Cron as one of the headliners. More details to follow!

Meeting Times

Sep 05
2018
Green Bay
11:30-3 at 1951 West 1951 Bond Street in Green Bay

Police Policy and Procedures

See the calendar tab for more details.
Sep 08
2018
Chippewa Falls
10am-12:30 at Deb's Café, 1120 22nd St in Chippewa Falls

Author Business Plan

See the calendar tab for more details.
Sep 08
2018
Wausau
10-12:00 at Marathon County Library 300 North First Street in Wausau

Fall Workshop Prep

See the calendar tab for more details.
Sep 15
2018
Milwaukee
9am-11:30 at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, lower level), Wausatosa

Milwaukee Write-In

See the calendar tab for more details.
Oct 03
2018
Green Bay
11:30-3 at 1951 West 1951 Bond Street in Green Bay

Queries and Pitches

See the calendar tab for more details.
Oct 20
2018
Milwaukee
9am-11:30 at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, lower level), Wausatosa

Milwaukee Write-In

See the calendar tab for more details.
Nov 07
2018
Green Bay
11:30-3 at 1951 West 1951 Bond Street in Green Bay

2019 Planning Meeting

See the calendar tab for more details.
Nov 10
2018
Wausau
10-12:00 at Marathon County Library 300 North First Street in Wausau

2019 Planning Meeting

See the calendar tab for more details.
Nov 17
2018
Milwaukee
9am-11:30 at the Mayfair Mall (Garden Suites Community Room, lower level), Wausatosa

2019 Planning Meeting

See the calendar tab for more details.

WisRWA Newsletter



The Importance of Setting

We all know there are many important elements that make up a good story. Characterization, plot, and dialogue come immediately to mind. But in doing some research, I’ve discovered I haven’t done enough thinking about Setting.

And it’s so important.

Image looking in at two people in a subway car“Setting is a conscious choice the writer makes during the pre-writing phase,” says John Galligan (author of Tools for Fiction Writers) in an article for the Mystery Writers of America newsletter. “[S]etting feeds and supports your fiction, sometimes in subtle, not evident ways.” He goes on to say that “many of the essentials of setting will show up in your first draft but many more will need to be crafted or refined during revision.”

So, what can we do to improve and use the power of Setting to enhance our work?

Galligan suggests breaking it out into its dimensions:

Place: The most obvious is, of course, where. But there’s more to that; think the whole spectrum of “big” (A city? State? Mythical world?) down to the “microscopic” (a brilliant detail). That’s what we reach for when we revise.

Time: Now we go into the “Scale of When.” Time in history? Time of year? Of life? and of course, Time of story.  We need to seek for those details, lines of dialogue, that clarify the scale of when, that ground the reader in our story.

Mood/Theme: This moves us into a more subliminal mindset. Think big picture (a disaster, maybe a tsunami). Then consider the emotions it causes: despair, loss, horror—a whole spectrum of emotions, evidenced by . . .

Woman sitting on the edge of a boat with flower garlandCharacter: Setting shapes characters in terms of who they are in the beginning of your story and who (in the storyline) they will become. It determines how they walk, talk, eat, think, react—in short, everything. And let’s not forget . . .

Pace: How your story moves from one setting to another. Perhaps your character finds herself uncomfortable—raising the tension—as you skip from one scene to another? Galligan says, “Think of a story as a finite arrangement of settings” that link dramatic actions. “Spending too much time in one and not enough in another creates imbalance and a pacing problem.”

Galligan again: “It all comes down to details and choices. We can’t describe everything.”

I’m paraphrasing here: He advocates striving for consistency, richness and economy, working across details that cross boundaries within Setting, such as describing late summer with “silver maples humming with cicadas.” This not only gives the reader a mental image but at the same time conveys information about place (where) and Mood/Theme.

Whew! Who’d have thought there was so much to consider within the broad word: Setting. I, for one, will go back into the manuscript I’m working on to see how much better it can be with just a few more (or less! Sometimes I’m wordy) detail. I want my story to give my readers so much more than just a place where something happens. I want to give them the depth and height and width that Setting can provide.

Nancy Sweetland has authored seven picture books and a chapter book mystery for young readers, along with short stories for juveniles and adults. Adult novels include The Spa Murders, The Virgin Murders, The Door to Love, WannabeThe House on the Dunes, The Countess of Denwick, and The Shopkeeper’s Secret. She lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin and loves to hear from readers.


Leave a Reply