O'Reilly logo

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

A Writer's Guide to Active Setting

Book Description

Enhance Your Fiction with the Power of an Active Setting!

Setting is one of the most underutilized and misunderstood elements of the writing craft. And when writers do focus on setting, they often pull readers out of the narrative and jolt their attention from the action on the page.

A Writer's Guide to Active Setting will show you how to create vivid, detailed settings that bring your story to life. You'll learn how to deepen character development, anchor readers to a specific time and place, reveal backstory without slowing things down, elevate action sequences, and more.

Drawing upon examples from authors writing across a variety of genres, Mary Buckham will illustrate exactly how the proper use of setting can dramatically improve your story. You'll learn what's effective about each passage and how you can use those techniques to make your story shine.

"Takes an all too often overlooked technique, and elevates it to a next-level game changer for powerful fiction." --Cathy Yardley, author of Rock Your Plot

"A powerful combination of fresh insights, practical examples, and how-to advice on the often overlooked but critical element of setting...written in a quick-to-read and easy-to-understand style, and packed with useful application exercises." --Kelly L. Stone, author of Thinking Write: The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind

"If you're a writer, then Mary Buckham's book is a must-have tool for your writer's toolkit. Creating settings that are rich and believable is not an easy task, but with this book, I found that each chapter gave me great tips that I could immediately implement in my manuscript." --Laurie G. Adams, author of Finding Atticus

Table of Contents

  1. Title Page
  2. Copyright Page
  3. Dedication
  4. Acknowledgments
  5. Foreword
  6. Introduction
    1. Overview
  7. Part One: Characterization & Sensory Detail
    1. Chapter 1: Getting Started with Active Setting
      1. Anchoring the Reader
      2. Subtext in Setting
      3. Setting the Stage
      4. Pacing and Setting
      5. What Not to Do
      6. Assignment
      7. Recap
    2. Chapter 2: Using Subjective Setting Detail to Reveal Character
      1. Showing with Setting
      2. Revealing Character Through Setting
      3. What Not to Do
      4. Assignment
      5. Recap
    3. Chapter 3: Using Sensory Detail to Enhance Setting
      1. How to Use Sensory Detail in Your Novel
      2. Layering POV and Sensory Details
      3. Ways to Bring Out Sensory Details
      4. What Not to Do
      5. Assignment
      6. Recap
  8. Part Two: Emotion, Conflict, & Backstory
    1. Chapter 4: Using Setting to Show Emotion
      1. Creating an Emotional Experience
      2. Using Concrete Descriptions
      3. Foreshadowing
      4. Reinforcing Story Themes
      5. What Not to Do
      6. Assignment
      7. Recap
    2. Chapter 5: Using Setting to Create Complication
      1. Foreshadowing Trouble or Conflict via Setting
      2. Internal and Emotional Conflict
      3. Conflict and World Building
      4. Orientation and Conflict
      5. Conflict via Contrast
      6. What's Not to Do
      7. Assignment
      8. Recap
    3. Chapter 6: Using Setting to Show Backstory
      1. Defining Backstory
      2. Using Contrast
      3. Tying It All Together
      4. What Not to Do
      5. Assignment
      6. Recap
  9. Part Three: Anchoring, Action, Setting as a Character, & More
    1. Chapter 7: Using Setting to Anchor the Reader
      1. Using POV to Anchor Setting
      2. Use Deeper POV to Anchor Setting
      3. Transitioning via Setting
      4. Transitioning via Same Setting from a Different POV
      5. Transitioning in Stories with Large Worldbuilding
      6. Chapter and Scene Beginnings
      7. What Not to Do
      8. Assignment
      9. Recap
    2. Chapter 8: Using Setting in an Action Sequence
      1. Using Short Cues
      2. Movement Through Space
      3. Word Allocation in Setting Details
      4. Showing Versus Telling
      5. Character in Action Through Setting
      6. What Not to Do
      7. Assignment
      8. Recap
    3. Chapter 9: Using Setting as a Character in Your Story
      1. When Place Matters
      2. Setting in a Series
      3. What Not to Do
      4. Assignment
      5. Recap
    4. Chapter 10: The Devil in the Setting Details
      1. Your Story, Your Setting, Is Unique
      2. Pay Attention to Setting in What You Read and Write
      3. Other Details to Remember
      4. Additional Setting Pitfalls
      5. Wrap Up: What Makes a Great Setting
  10. Bibliography