Tag Archives: settings

A Time for Every Season… by Sherrie Hansen Decker

One of the parts I like best about starting a new book is choosing the location where my story will be set. Local traditions, distinctive scenery, and quirky bits of historical lore can all be used to enhance the plot and bring life to your characters. Layering and interweaving them together or using symbolism to enhance the plot is pure fun for me.  Choosing the right season for your story is another fun exercise. My latest book, Love Notes, starts just about this time of year, when late summer / autumn is turning to winter.  The conclusion of Hope Anderson and Tommy Love’s story falls on Christmas Eve with a tender carol about hope, joy, peace and love. Maybe that’s why I’ve been thinking about autumn and the images it brings to mind.

But first, I’m going to backtrack a bit. I have to admit that autumn is my second favorite season. My bed and breakfast, The Blue Belle Inn,  is named after a spring flower, and painted in springtime colors, so you can probably guess what my favorite season is.

To me, spring is a season of hope, and new beginnings. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t start Love Notes in the spring. Because for Hope and Tommy, certain things had to come to an end  – die – before any new growth could occur. Dreams, self, old business.

I love spring, when the first blossoms start to poke out of the brown, colorless, still-half-frozen ground.

Spring has humble beginnings, and finishes with a truly glorious display.

Fall, on the other hand, is slow and mellow. It sneaks up on you. Why is it that we think summer will never end? I mean, we know colder weather is coming. Fall is about denial.

Fall is the season of being finished, pleased with yourself, satisfied and content. Fall is the time of year when the fruits of your labors are seen to completion.

Now I sound like a farmer’s daughter, which I am.

Fall is nature’s last hurrah.

Fall is frisky squirrels scurrying frantically about, getting ready for winter.

Are your characters driven – under a tight deadline? If so, maybe fall is their time.

Fall is yellow, orange and red… exactly what we expect, most of the time. But fall is also every color of the rainbow.

Fall is full of surprises.

Fall is hazy nights, full of dust and chaff, and beautiful sunsets.

If fall is hazy, summer is lazy. The time when we go on vacation, take siestas, and stop to smell the roses.

Summer can bring stormy weather.

Summer is unsettling, volatile. Things can blow up in a hurry.

Summer can be crazy.

Summer can be relaxed. Sweet. Wet. Wild.

Summer is a blaze of glory. Hot and humid. A time when things grow and burst into color. Everything is at it’s best in the summertime.

Summer is the perfect time to lean back and enjoy a day of basking in the sun or relaxing on a porch swing.

Summer is sentimental.

Summer is a time when I take nothing for granted, because I know it won’t be long before…

Fall. And fall is fleeting. The inevitable frost kills things, makes things colorless and grey.

And fall, after all, leads to winter. Winter…  it’s icy cold. If you’re not careful, it will freeze your little tush off. The tip of my nose is always chilly in the winter.

Winter is a time of desolation. Isolation. Winter is beautiful, even majestic, in it’s own way, but so frigid and unyielding.

Crisp, clear. Blustery, blue.

Merry, dear. Winter has its own set of wishes, its own brittle warmth.

Which season is your favorite? What time of year were you born in? Have one or more seasons impacted your life? After all, we’re all characters living out a story line. Wild Rose of Scotland, the book I’m working on now, starts in the spring when the rhododendrons are in bloom. But there’s a long, hot, oppressive summer in store for Rose before she finally feels the graceful acceptance of fall.

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The Importance of Imagery–by Deborah J Ledford

In my opinion there is no better way to set a scene or mood than by implementing imagery.  Visuals of a particular location, or even within a single room, provide an enormous amount of information about your characters to the reader.  Also, what a character sees outside a window can tell us how they view their world.

Does your hero find himself in an unfamiliar and unsettling locale?  Perhaps the buzzing streetlamp he stands under blazes blue light down on him, seemingly to draw unwanted attention to him—yet this is the precise spot where he’s been told to wait in order to receive the clue which will save the heroine’s life.

Your villain can be clearly established by the way he carries himself, or perhaps consider a prop for him/her to use.  In my upcoming novel Staccato, presented by Second Wind Publishing, I use the device of a walking stick which my villain wields, at times with brutal effect.  The tap tap tapping of the villain’s cane striking the gleaming marble floor as he moves closer amplifies the fear and trepidation evident by my hero’s stuttering heartbeat.

Setting the scene visually is highly advisable so that the reader can place themselves in your characters’ shoes.  Indicate what the character sees and implement as many senses as possible—particularly when the reader is visiting the location for the first time.

Add personal details visually.  There may be a cherished item you want to highlight (a locket always worn, a lucky charm), a deficit that adds intrigue (a tick or habit), or perhaps there is something your character avoids (a framed photograph that is always placed face-down on a table, a locked door never entered).  These visuals or images are compelling devices to implement—the reader will be compelled to keep flipping the pages to the very end of your book.

Accessing existing photographs are an ideal way to set the mood for a scene.  I often use photos to kick start a project.  There’s nothing better for breaking a little writer’s block than to dig out a picture and truly assess a capture in time.  Focus on the entire element then break down the image piece by piece.  Implement a character or two within that setting, and viola you have begun crafting a short story that could very well turn into novel.

Imagery is a snapshot within the scene.  If carefully crafted, these images will be ones your reader will not soon forget.

 

Deborah J Ledford is the author of Staccato, scheduled for release by Second Wind Publishing later this summer.  Please visit her website at: www.deborahjledford.com.

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