Saturday, August 17, 2013

Go Teen Writers Virtual Writing Retreat - Saturday's Closing Thoughts on Settings

by Stephanie Morrill

Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet (Playlist). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website.

Early in the summer, I read a book called Million Dollar Outlines by David Farland, which was very different than most writing books I've read, and I continue to ponder its contents. This is a quote from the book in regards to settings that I've been thinking about:

View the book on Amazon

The rule of thumb for Hollywood in big budget movies says, "Don't show me the same setting twice." . . . The reason is that you want to keep the story visually interesting by making sure that each scene shows the viewer something new.

I'll confess it - I'm guilty of my settings being an afterthought. But as writers, we're fortunate that we don't have to worry about the cost of constructing sets or flying in a crew. All it costs us is extra creativity!

As we wind down for the day, I'd love to chat about settings. Where does your book take place? How do you feel about the quote above? Do you think you're setting too many scenes in the same location?

And please share how writing went today! Did you make your goal?


  1. My book takes place in a fantasy world, and I can't remember if I'm bad at scenery changes or not. . .probably. . . . :P But I'll try to remember for draft two!

    Yes! I made my goal for today! I'm so happy. Here are my stats:

    Weekend word count goal: 10,000
    Yesterday's word count goal: 3,000 or more
    Yesterday's word count: 3,030
    Today's word count goal: 4,000 or more
    Today's word count: 4,014
    Total word count of the past two days: 7,044
    Words to go for tomorrow: 2,956

    YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I am very, very happy to have made it this far. I'm getting so close to the end of my book, and you have no idea how incredibly amazingly extraordinarily unsayably excited I am!!!!!

  2. My story takes place in a futuristic Earth, though most of the time it appears to be a fantasy world (spoilers!). However, I do think I spend a lot of time with my characters in the woods and around a campfire (they are on a quest, so there is a lot of it, but it gets repetitive and important information comes across during those moments, but perhaps I can figure out a new way to do it or have them stumble upon other places to do so).

  3. I definitely over-use settings... food for thought.
    My goal was to write, and I did - far more than I expected to!

  4. Setting is something I have to make a conscious effort at. As I was drafting my most recent story, I noticed all of my key conversations took place at the kitchen table (maybe that spills over from my own life?). So I had to try to make sure my characters actually left the kitchen and interacted in other places. Like the living room. Haha.

    I met my goal for the weekend today by finishing out my WIP. My new goal is to keep myself away from that story for a while so I won't be overwhelmed by revision.

  5. So far so good! I think every scene is different...I'm going to keep this in mind for my future writing and I think the quote is enough to make me want to check out this book

  6. My characters are almost constantly on the move, so in my current WIP I haven't really had trouble changing the setting up. Fleshing out my settings is something I definitely need to work on, though--guess I lean more the other way.

    Wizard quote, by the way! I'll have to check this book out.

  7. Well in my book it's set in the future and it kind of has to take place in the same place because my characters are trapped there lol. I get more varying places later in the book, but for the first half it's a similar setting. So I think the quote can be used, but sometimes it's difficult to or not appropriate for some stories. :P

    Writing went awesome today! I got it all done in an hour! :D Usually it takes me an hour and a half to two.

    Stori Tori's Blog

  8. So, settings!

    Sorry, I've been gone awhile an just had time to sit down and comment! :D

    My settings:::

    My book takes place somewhere in NC the state. Well, my setting takes place between Carla Jane (MC) house, Beth (BFFofMC) house, and the school. There are a couple of other places, but the ones above are the main places. I really like that quote, and i need to think about it more.

    As for my writing today:::::

    I got SO much more done! 2,876 total this far!!! = for the weekend, remember, thus far!

    3,994 Words!!

    6 more words and it'll be 4,000 words! Gosh! Compared to Hannah ^^^ up there, I got nothing! She's done so well getting to 10,000 words! congrats, Hannah! congrats to everyone who s meeting theyre goal! :D (I'm writing a 'novel' (lol) long comment, arent I?)

    As to my goal, I'm getting there! I'm about half way through the second chapter that I need to write! but my weekend ends today! :( school starts tomorrow! i'll get up extra early to start with all you wonderful people! :)

    Thanks again for the retreat guys! It's AWESOME!!! you totally need to do these things, like once every 2 months!


  9. *posts ridiculously early next morning because of insomnia*

    I'm coming to terms with the fact that my novel is a very slow-paced character-driven soup of a thing, and I can love it unconditionally as is, but I need to stop trying to change it. Part of this as-is is the fact that the first half of my novel takes place on one spaceship, and the second half takes place on another. Most of the first half takes place entirely in one room. Even more of the second half takes place in another two rooms. Although the fast-paced-fantasy-reading-action-scene-every-other-page-reader in me recoils at this, I know this is the novel I need to write.

    The way I (am trying to) see it, I get more space to explore setting and character. That space I would have used describing the epic sword fight? I can describe what Character A has hanging on the walls instead, and how that gives us insights into his character. That spot I was going to go into a lengthy description of All The Action Of The Climax? The Climax now involves considerably more character angst of the good variety, and considerably less Action.

    I think I'm beginning to see how sharply my writing tastes diverge from my reading tastes. I read stories with wide spans--epic fantasies, slow-burn romances, help-the-world-is-ending-and-we-need-to-save-it stories; I write, as someone-on-the-internet-who-I-don't-now-remember once described them, "character clash stories." I throw a couple characters in a room together and see what happens--I plan and I plot and I throw it out the window because that's the way it needs to be. I'm finally grasping what it is, exactly, that I've been trying to write all along, and I'm loving it.

    (So yeah, that turned into a dissertation on my writing tastes. Clearly I am not to be trusted with the comment mechanism, because I turn every two-sentence response into an essay. Sigh. I can't bring myself to care at 5:00 in the morning my time. ;) )

  10. My scenes rarely happen in the same place. I get bored with the same setting, why wouldn't readers?

  11. My current book mostly takes place in two castles: the dungeons of one and all over another. Both have lots of magic and secret passages and such, but because of my characters and their situations, nearly everything happens in about the same place. Bother.

    I didn't meet my goal last night; I was too busy biking and rocking out to Jamie Grace, Matthew West, and the Newsboys. (Thank you, DC Fest!) Oh well. Time well spent, if you ask me.

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  13. My settings usually take place in a house, at school or somewhere outside. Usually, but I'm pretty sure my settings vary well enough, I think it depends on the story. : )


  14. My settings are all really similar. As my novel takes place in a hospital, that's to be expected, though.