“If someone tells you writing is easy, he is either lying or I hate him.” —Farley Mowat

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

On Setting


What is a setting actually like? What tells us what it's like.

Have half the class makes a soundscape based on a location (hospital emergency room, or a primary classroom, or a highway, etc.) while the other half the class writes through what they hear. The kicker: the sounders keep it a secret what location they're sounding.



from John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction

4a. Describe a landscape as seen by an old woman whose disgusting and detestable old husband has just died. Do not mention the husband or death.

4b. Describe a lake as seen by a young man who has just committed murder. Do not mention the murder.

4c. Describe a landscape as seen by a bird. Do not mention the bird.

4d. Describe a building as seen by a man whose son has just been killed in a war. Do not mention the son, war, death, or the old man doing the seeing; then describe the same building, in the same weather and at the same time of day, as seen by a happy lover. Do not mention love or the loved one.


 On small pieces of blank paper, each person should write one of two types of info (one type of info per piece of paper): a) LOCATION where a story might occur and b) CHARACTER (real or fictional). Make sure you keep you piles of LOCATIONS separate from your piles of CHARACTERS. After 3 minutes of speed-brainstorming/writing, our whole class will combine ALL locations in a pile, and then ALL characters in a separate pile. Mix thoroughly. Everyone then chooses 1 location and 2 characters. Finally, spend 10-15 minutes writing a scene set in that location, where those two characters meet. Read & discuss.

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