Friday, August 19, 2011

Setting and Background in Fiction (Part 5 of 8)

Background information doesn't intrude. Unskilled writers feel they have to give a litany of details to show their scenes are authentic. We make scenes believable by a sentence or two at a time.

Years ago I wrote a novel set in Kenya in 1950 and the major characters drive from Nairobi toward Lake Victoria. The heroine avoids talking to the hero and stares out the window. I inserted one sentence to enable readers to sense the authentic setting: "Kikuyu women toiled up steep, red paths, bending forward under the heavy loads of firewood strapped on to their backs."

That's all. A few pages later, I slipped in a one-sentence description of a tea plantation, which she pointed out to him to cut off personal conversation.

Good writers don't stop the action to provide background.
The setting becomes part of the story.

1 comment:

  1. I've noticed this in other excellent novelist's work as well, Cec. They add tidbits of background here and there, much like an artist subtly adds color and detail to flesh out a painting.

    I wish I could add green veggies to my husband's meals this simply without him noticing I am livening up the background! Sigh.


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