Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Change in Setting

“You know, John-Peter, this is what pleases me about Munsonville. Nothing ever changes. Look at this snow. It snows like this year after year. I have no reason to expect that this winter will be any different from all the other winters I have known. Munsonville is safe, dependable, just like God.” Staked! Chapter 17, The Gift from the Grave

If any words were so untrue, it's these. Munsonville, like any locale, DOES change.

By the time Melissa experiences it for the first time in Bryony, it's changed. The background chatter is all about how the village wants to restore parts of the Simons estate for tourism. 

Of course, John Simons taking up residence in the village changes it, as we eventually learn in Before the Blood, but don't worry. You'll be able to see Munsonville even before John's appearance. 

By the end of Bryony, the landscape has again changed and so has Melissa.

It's a different Munsonville in Visage. In Staked!, we find John-Peter and Karla naively unaware  that the Munsonville they inhabit is not the same Munsonville the readers have previously experienced, and even that is changed by the end of the story.

Again, so is Melissa. And then it, and she, changes again.

Setting is not static, nor should we, as fiction writers, write it that way. Show the changes, subtle or not. Show how those changes affect your characters, subtle or not. Our suroundings shift and change. We cannot help but shift and change to accomodate them.

This past weekend, we moved, the fourth move in less than eighteen months. 

We broke down our Channahon house, disposed of most of our belongings, stored the rest in a 10' by 10' foot storage unit - yes, the lifetime possessions of four people - and moved into a relative's home that we "affectionately" called Stalag 17.

Nine months later, the four of us moved into a four-room apartment we dubbed Ellis Island - the transition from one life to the next.

A month later, we broke down the storage unit and tossed away more stuff. The remaining items went to the apartment.

And here we are, seven months later, moving into a townhome across the street from the apartment. We have a nickname for this place, too.

We're calling it "home."

Never did the four of us think that we, together under one roof, would call a place "home" again. We're all adults now and moving at a steady pace into new lives. But God had one more transitional surprise for us. It feels good. We like it. We're happy.

Surprise your characters. Surprise your readers. Shake up your landscape.

Grow and change them all. 

For more ideas: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2015/03/the-importance-of-change-in-setting.html

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