Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 04/10/15

SETTING THE STAGE setting

SPRING has sprung!  I know—that’s a cliché statement—however, as I watch new life flying and hopping and tweeting and romping and howling in field and sky, I feel good, which fires up the imagination!  So today, I’m going to talk about baby owls.  One of my neighbors caught this photo in the Spring of 2014—two young owls nestled in the perfect setting for their protection, ability to view their surroundings, and learn how to grab their next meal.

When developing the setting for a novel, the first thing I do (which most writers probably don’t) is consider the TIME(s) OF YEAR during which the story will begin, travel through, and end.  This one element of foundational, background research is (I believe) KEY to all the other elements of setting—from locale, to mood and atmosphere, to geography, both topographical and man-made.  Below are my owl/story-setting comparison illustrations.

  1. Spring is the season of breeding for the owl species, which coincides with the greatest possibilities of food supplies and positive weather conditions.
    1. What “food” do you want to offer your readers in the preface and opening chapter that will flavor their imaginations and entice them to read further?
    2. The words of description that are used here must create a feel of the season your characters are living in so that your readers will feel the same—such as the cool crispness of spring air balanced by the warmth of the sun.
  2. Owls are what I call nesting shoppers, selecting appropriate holes in trees or barns or even the abandoned nests of crows and other birds of prey. They also return to these sites year after year and reoccupy them if at all possible.
    1. The first locale you present to your readers should be so real that they have a feeling of déjà vu—such a strong appeal (or dislike) that they would want to go there (or never go there).
    2. You are the only person who knows your characters!  Where are they at the moment your story opens?  In the city? Walking pleasant neighborhood streets? In school?  Anticipating going to an ocean beach?  Just pulling themselves into a saddle upon their beloved horse and galloping off across a ranch?  BE SPECIFIC.
  3. Owl hatchlings are born over a period of several days because the eggs are laid at different times.  Thus you have the sibling “pecking order” with the larger individuals often getting more food (and attention) than the smaller weaker ones, which could affect the survival rate—unless the area (setting) provides plentiful food sources.
    1. The time of year you’ve selected for your story’s beginning will influence everything that happens afterward.  It will give you the ability to demonstrate (not tell) each character’s unique feelings IN that seasonal environment such as:
      1. A spring marriage—which has brought joy to all the characters.
      2. A Thanksgiving Eve death—that brings sadness—yet a strong element of thanksgiving that the person is “in a better place.”
    2. This sibling/owl/human comparison also provides the picture of character development throughout your story’s various seasons.

The next three blogs will continue this discussion about SETTING.  For today, I’ll add just one more thought.  It is never too early to start planning the “setting” for publishing your book(s).  Ask other author’s about their publishing experiences and find the best place for your book to be produced and released into the world.

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

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