Using the exercises for setting on Saturday pricked up my attention to detail while editing a late night collection from the last few weeks of school. The intrusion of technology inspired this science fiction fantasy--a theme and character woven into Genevieve's Reach. The interior setting of the large, gray-toned laboratory that is more like a warehouse has rattled around in my brain for over half my life. Where did this huge room with low lights and a threatening atmosphere exist in my past? I hope I've described it with some clarity.
Working on the novel with the working title His Favorite Rescue. One of the main characters is a sixteen-year-old boy who has nearly died using cocaine and is "rescued" by his aunt who he thinks has no experience dealing with drug abuse. The novel is based on the true experiences of a number of homeless or nearly homeless teen drug abusers I've known. They are often taken in by naive, well-meaning relatives and the parents of friends. I'm collecting experiences with treatment programs and the differences between recovery from different substances.
Working on exercises for the workshop at Evergreen in Easton, I want usefulness to balance theory. Setting is often used as an afterthought in creative writing lessons. Experts blather on about all the other narrative elements, but setting is delegated to a role of time, place, temperature, degree of light and weather. Of course it can be that--Pride and Prejudice can be transported from the English countryside to California's trendy suburbia, but the settings that knit with chararacter and conflict deliver the reader to a different place.
J D Cooper
Author of the Lilac Hill series, The Portia Journal, other novels and countless short stories