Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler with Eric Trant
“An author knows his landscape best; he can stand around, smell the wind, get a feel for his place.”
― Tony Hillerman
Memoir writers know the importance of using fiction techniques to bring their personal stories alive on the page. We can also learn by reading other genres.
I am very pleased to feature Author Eric Trant again in another WOW Blog Tour for his new book, Risen, an Historical Supernatural Thriller. Eric discussed “Bad Reviews: Why We Must Read Them and How to Survive” in a previous WOW Blog Tour for his novel, Steps, a Fantasy Thriller. He will discuss the importance of setting in storytelling.
Welcome back, Eric!
Setting: Its Role in Storytelling
Monkeys and weasels
It’s funny how infrequently I discuss setting with my fellow authors. We touch on world-building, but that is not ~setting~. We discuss descriptions and scenes, but those are not setting. We discuss character arc, plot, active tense and word count, but none of those are setting.
Nope, we monkeys run ’round the mulberry bush chasing our weasel, but we never stop to pull up our socks.
Setting is the spine of your story, the central nerve center connecting the senses to the imagination.(Click to Tweet)
If you pick the wrong setting, you might as well light it up and burn it down, because your story is a lifeless corpse. No blood. No pulse. No throbbing temple, just a gaggle of floating heads with brilliantly described eyes and hair, drifting through a desert landscape of 65,000 words.
Set the stage
See, ~setting~ is the first part of the story that impacts the audience when the show begins. There is this background hum of gossip until the lights dim. An awkward silence as we sip our coffee, then the music thrums out from the walls around us. We sit. We still our tongues. We hold our breath as the music builds and smoke creeps from beneath the curtain. The temperature drops and the curtains part for a ship on the ocean, thunderclaps and lightning, the floor shaking and someone is being tossed from the plank of a battered ship, mast broken with sails flapping, busted rudder hammering amidst a blue midnight sky.
It is the beginning of something. It is the spine tingling. Setting is ~everything~, and we as authors need to show it more respect.
Treat setting as the main character
Suggesting we treat setting as a character is a bit obtuse, but suggesting we treat it as the ~main~ character is downright laughable, right?
Consider our play with the ship in the storm. The reader experiences the pulse of the story, and those vessels in the side of their neck throb in time with the character on the plank, a girl in a torn dress with red eyes glaring.
If you surround the reader with setting, it will engulf them in the story. (Click to Tweet)
Let the setting have its say. Allow the reader to hear the rage of the storm, see how it rends the ship and slaps ocean water over the rails. There is a sensation of anger from our world, and an overbearing darkness at what is about to occur. Not just the girl on the plank, but the entire universe is outraged by her sentencing.
And if we treat setting as a character, by default it becomes the main character (Click to Tweet)
Setting is the only piece of your story that pervades the entire work, every scene, every paragraph. Setting is ever-present and undebatable. It must be addressed, and it demands its due.
Level-up your settings
So, treat setting with due respect. How you accomplish this is up to you, but take time to discuss setting with your fellow authors, with your readers and with your muse. Practice new setting techniques, tickling not only the five physical senses, but digging into intuition, fear, hope and every grain on the beach of emotion.
Read authors who are masters at establishing tone and crafting scenes. Bradbury is a favorite of mine, and classical authors in general. Heck, read THE MARTIAN. Mars was undoubtedly his main character, and Weir focused all his research on the planet and space, and spent very little time divulging the space-guy’s hair color and eyes.
It seems in the modern age of get-er-done, we have rushed into our story without a stage crew, without lighting and sound and props. We one-act it in front of the class and expect their imagination to somehow fill the gaps in our half-pint worlds.
I say level-up. Take your settings to new heights, and you might find readers lining up to follow you.
Thank you Eric for highlighting the importance of setting as character in our stories. I appreciate your comment, “if you surround the reader with setting, it will engulf them in your story.”
Haunted by visions of a demonic angel and sold into servitude by his father, young Alberto battles to survive the horrors of a nineteenth century Sicilian sulfur mine.
Suffering merciless brutality, Alberto must save not only himself but his deformed older brother, both pawns in their father’s mad plan to overthrow a group of wealthy landowners.
Bound by a death-debt to his hunchback master, Alberto discovers a door the miners call Porta dell’Inferno, the Door to Hell, deep within the sulfur mines. When he learns the demon-angel of his dreams stalks the caverns beyond the door, Alberto realizes a strange fate has lured him and his brother to the gates leading to the underworld.
Now Alberto must face the creature from his visions and rise to become the man his father demands him to be, or remain forever trapped in a hellish world where none escape.
Print Length: 182 Pages
Genre: Historical Supernatural Fiction
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (August 15, 2017)
About the Author:
Eric resides in Dallas, TX with his wife and children, where he writes and manages his own business. His writing combines literary characterization with supernatural elements, all the while engaging the reader’s senses with constant movement and vivid settings. His books are designed to be one-sitters, meaning they can and should be read in one (or a few) sittings, owing to the fast-paced nature of the writing.
How about you? As writers, do you treat setting as character? As readers, how does setting affect you?
We’d love to hear from you. Please join in the conversation below~
“Standing in My Truth by Memoirist Nancy Richards”
Nancy is is an adult survivor of childhood abuse. She is the author of Mother, I Don’t Forgive You: A Necessary Alternative to Healing.
WOW Blog Tour Dates:
Monday September 4th (today) @ WOW! Women on Writing
Interview & Giveaway
Tuesday, September 5th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Eric Trant writes today’s guest post at Choice “Is a Career in the Arts (writing) Realistic?”. Readers can find out more about Trant and his latest book Risen.
Wednesday, September 6th @ Mari McCarthy’s Create Write Now
“Say YES: Why Taking Chances is Imperative” is today’s topic at Mari McCarthy’s Create Write Now. Hear from author Eric Trant as he examines this important topic and shares more about his latest novel Risen.
Thursday, September 7th @ Writer’s Pay it Forward
Eric Trant pens today’s guest post at Writer’s Pay It Forward. Today’s post is titled: “Breaking In vs. Breaking Out: The Writer’s Career Arc”. Readers and Writers alike won’t want to miss this opportunity to hear from Trant as well as finding out more about his latest novel Risen.
Friday, September 8th @ BookWorm
Hear from Anjanette Potter of BookWorm as she reviews Eric Trant’s latest novel Risen – this historical supernatural work of fiction is sure to please readers!
Friday, September 8th @ Lisa Haselton
Lisa Haselton interviews Eric Trant about his latest novel Risen. You’ll want to learn more about this supernatural tale of fiction as well as the mastermind behind the dynamic writing.
Tuesday, September 12th @ Bring on Lemons with Tess Fallier
Tess Fallier is today’s guest blogger with a review and her thoughts on Eric Trant’s Risen.Don’t miss this blog stop!
Wednesday, September 13th @ Book Santa Fe with Crystal Otto
Reader and book blogger Crystal Otto reviews Eric Trant’s Risen and shares her thoughts with readers at Book Santa Fe.
Thursday, September 14th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey
Eric Trant visits Memoir Writer’s Journey and shares his thoughts with readers of Kathleen Pooler’s engaging blog. Today’s post title is: “Setting: Its Role in Storytelling”. Don’t miss this chance to hear from the talented Eric Trant and find out more about his latest book Risen.
Friday, September 29th @ Coming Down the Mountain
Eric Trant is today’s guest author at Karen Jones Gowen’s blog Coming Down the Mountain. Read Eric’s guest post titled “Luck: Its Role in Success” and find out more about his latest thriller Risen.