Write 2 Be Magazine

For the Artists Who Like to Remain Strictly Out of the Box

Creative Writing: Building Plot Through the Setting by Logan K. Scott

Which comes first, the plot or the setting? Does your plot create the setting or does the setting create the plot? For every writer, the answer is different. Location should be very important and it should influence the plot, but it shouldn’t overshadow it completely. Your setting can also be a plot in itself.

In the case of science fiction novels, fantasy novels, and men’s adventure novels, the setting is essential. Scorching deserts, frozen mountains, unusual predators of Middlearth, and spy camps become antagonists. The setting takes on characteristics that seem to almost be consciously trying to defeat the protagonist. Whether your novel takes place in the past or the future, the plot must feel real to your readers and should match your protagonist’s personality. After all, you wouldn’t want to give your character the power to see through metal objects but then have the entire story take place in a log cabin up in Alaska, right? Of course not.

When it comes to setting, limit yourself to the stereotypical settings of particular genres. For example, if you are writing a fantasy story, consider the setting in contemporary Los Angeles. One popular example of a fantasy set outside a fantasy realm is Disney’s Enchanted where Amy Adams plays a princess who’s been banished to live in modern day New York City.

The setting can greatly influence the plot in more direct ways as well. In Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, the setting and the plot are almost one in the same. The protagonist is a lawyer that is sent to a mansion where the previous owner had died. The mansion is located on the edge of flood plains that keeps him trapped whenever the tides are up. Surrounding the manor is a marsh where the woman’s children are buried. Throughout the years, the legend says that whenever the Woman in Black is seen, a child in the village dies. Now, as an author, if you were to replace the setting with anything but a very small seaside village in the early 1900s, the entire plot would collapse. This is a prime example of how the plot and the setting are one in the same.

In another example, Romancing the Stone, the plot and setting are completely different, yet they feed off of each other. The plot is focused on Joan Wilder, a New York romance novelist who tries to rescue her kidnapped sister. The setting, which is in Columbia, is there to simply provide conflict and adventure for the readers and has very little to do with the plot. Romancing the Stone could’ve just as easily taken place in Antarctica or the Sahara and instead of an emerald, the treasure could’ve been a priceless artifact or a bar of gold. The plot, in this case, did not directly impact the setting, but it did provide originality and excitement for the reader. And through the protagonist’s experiences inside a new culture, the audiences got to see a new side of Joan Wilder and her view of the world.

Setting and plot go hand in hand. They are not entirely independent of each other, but one does not overshadow the other. Instead, they play off each other like paddles in a game of Ping-Pong.

http://www.OasisMagazine.Org

About Logan K. Scott

Logan K. Scott is the author of numerous successful mystery/thrillers. In addition to his publishing work, he has a BA degree from Brooks Institute and is the writer and producer for more than a dozen films.

 

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About jcladyluv

Jimmetta Carpenter is the Editor and Creator of the Free Fall Literary E-Zine and the Spoken Like A Queen E-Zine. She has dedicated herself to the power of the words and given into her passion for writing and has been writing poetry officially since the age of ten. She has a book of poetry titled “The Art of Love” published through lulu.com under the pen name Gemini. She is currently finishing up with her first novel and already working on her second. In 1998 she had her poem “Rest In Peace” published in an anthology put out by the International Library of Poetry and in the Spring of 2007 will have another poem titled “Through The Eyes of an Angel” published in another anthology also put out by the International Library of Poetry. She was also awarded the Editor’s Choice Award for that poem as well. She is looking forward to having a very long and rewarding career in writing and hopes that through living out her dreams she can inspire someone else out there to realize theirs. Her advice to other up and coming authors is to NEVER stop believing N your dreams and don’t ever be afraid to dream big. Jimmetta can be contacted by sending her an e-mail at freefall_lbp@yahoo.com or jcladyluv@yahoo.com.

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This entry was posted on March 15, 2014 by in Contributing Writers and tagged , , , .
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