Forgetting the Setting

I’ve discovered a great oxymoron of my life: I’m a visual learner, but I hate description.

When I’m in class, I always wish the teacher would shut up and draw a picture.  When I’m reading, I always wish the author would shut up about the picture and tell the story.

I remember things through pictures, but I use my words to make them.

I received a crit today that suggesting I offer more setting — a request I’ve gotten often.  And my reply was “yes, I’m working on it.”  But the truth of the matter is, when I read, I skim the setting.  I don’t care what the heck the forest looks like, just what the trees are saying.  Forget the smell of the cooking bacon, give me characters fighting over it!

And that’s how I write.  Characters interacting, talking, laughing, fighting, swordfighting, doing magic, occasionally observing a tree or some grass.  But that’s it.  I love dialogue.  I write excellent dialogue!  (I’ve been told so from multiple different sources.)  But setting?  Hah, what’s that?

I’m stuck in the oxymoron box, knocking on the walls, trying to figure out how to get out, into the Land of Setting with all its sights and smells and sounds.

How to get out?  I guess the first step is to train myself to stop skimming.  Read the darn descriptions and figure out what I like and what I don’t.  And keep working til I get it right.

What do you skim when you read?  Is that what you skip when you write, too?the-setting-sun-1

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3 thoughts on “Forgetting the Setting

  1. I don’t think writers should include descriptions just for the heck of it; ideally, everything we write should serve a purpose, or several. A friend of mine once commented on how well I had used the overhead lights in a room to set the mood. Now, I did that entirely by accident, but I’m trying to replicate it consciously. I often fail, because setting tends to be a blind spot for me too, but I’m working on it.

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    • Yes! Setting should contribute to the mood, the tension, the vibe. It shouldn’t just BE there. And you know what? The setting that contributes, I enjoy. The setting that simply exists, I skim.

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