Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Setting. There's a word we've all heard before. If you're me, you've heard it since "writing workshop" in first grade. Every story need s a setting. A setting is where everything happens! A setting can be a city or a park or even Disney World!

Okay, so now that we (hopefully) have the basics of setting down, how do we deal with specifics? Especially if you are creating a new place? My current story takes place in a small, mostly rural town in a real area but with fabricated streets and shops. As I write I've found it's hard to keep names straight--street names, especially. (Also, I tend to keep naming streets after trees, with various versions of "street" -- ave, lane, boulevard -- stuck on the end. What's with that?)

Therefore, I've been considering a map. A visual reference of my tree-streets and houses and school and shops. I'm a visual person, so at first this makes total sense to me. However, the major flaw: I'd get too into it.

After what I'm positive would end up being hours of diagramming and naming, I'd be so excited about my creation I'd feel the need to dedicate paragraphs of my novel to directions and description. Directions and description that would probably be unnecessary to anyone but me, not make it to the final round of revisions, and then be an incredible waste of time.

My question is, is it worth the time wasted to have a clearer view of my setting? Or is a hazy mental image and snappier writing the better option?