Thursday, April 22, 2010

Setting As A Character

I’m a very lean writer. Not that I’m physically lean. I’m quite round. But I don’t put a lot of extra words in my writing. If I have two words and one word would do, I cut the extra word. This makes for a very quick read. I may have the same word count as other writers but my books read faster.

One of the victims of lean writing is setting. I tend to think of setting as fluff. Maybe because so many writers are… well… uninspired when it comes to setting so I usually skim description when reading. When writing, I put in the bare amount to orientate the reader and that’s it. Some readers love that. Some readers don’t.

I recently took a seminar that changed my thinking. The speaker advised that we think of setting as a character. Setting should have a personality. Setting should be unique. Setting should bring emotion to the scene.


I’m all about emotion. If I can use setting to increase or decrease emotion (because high emotion all the time is too wearying), then this is a tool I must use. I applied these lessons right away. Another wow. It works! If my character is sad, she notices the limp flowers in the garden. She drapes herself in gray. She doesn’t focus on the sunshine but on the solitary cloud in the sky. Suddenly, my writing is richer.

Expect to see more description in my writing going forward. This is too much fun!


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