Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Whip-It UP Wednesdays!

It seems I have a screw loose. Well, not me, my super-duper-ultra-cool mini PC. Yep, turn the sucker sideways and the joyous sound of rattling bits assaults the ears. Perfect, right?! So, I take it back to the "Buy More" (gotta love Chuck! lol) expecting a quick fix and to be merrily on my way . . . only to come to the realization I must dwell in a dream world.

Nothing is EVER that simple!

Long story short, I had to "upgrade" (for all of you who don't speak Geek- that just means they got more money out of me) to another model. My new, new mini PC has longer battery life and Windows 7! Oh joy, oh rapture . . . oh, blister it, somebody just smack me! If there is one thing I can't stand it's having to learn a new operating system.

Four hours later, I had everything set up and ready to go and it was only say, um, midnight! Hooray for me!

So, my productivity was not as stellar as I would have hoped. BUT I did manage to work a little more in my WIP Notebook. The new section I'm on is about 'Setting'.

I really enjoyed fleshing out Weston Manor and Langdon House. Ha! Guess my doctorate in daydreaming is finally paying off. Creating the backdrops for Melanie and Bradford's tumultuous courtship has proven to be very invigorating and oddly philosophical.

During one of my moments of creativity, I had a startling comparison pop into mind. Writing is a lot like painting. Characters are the subjects. The setting is the backdrop and the plot is the canvas that holds the two together.

Take for example, the Mona Lisa. Would the tone of the painting change if she'd been placed behind a brilliant blue sky? Or a robust seascape with puffy clouds? It's the combination of her intriguing looks and gentle earthy tones that catch our eye-- that lend the lady a mysterious glow. A truly perfect pairing any author would probably sell an eye-tooth for!

So, tell me--What is it about your characters and settings that you hope will draw a reader's eye? Do you try to capture every detail of your setting like a medieval tapestry? Or do you keep things on the periphery like an abstract? Paint us a picture!


Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi Sarah, I try to paint the picture of my settings through the eyes of my characters. That also allows my readers to get a feel for the way the h/h view their world. I think anytime we can help get the reader tuned into the minds and emotions of the characters, we've done our job as writers and story tellers. I also try to make my settings and characters like people who would live next door or what I see when I look down the street...interesting but not perfect. Did I answer the question yet??? LOL

Kaye Manro said...

Oh Sarah, I love painting pictures, but I also like to keep it simple and not ramble. I'm the master of not rambling, lol. I sometimes leave out too much. I blame this on my journalism background. But I try to keep things short and to the point only revealing what is necessary. Drawing a reader's eye? I think if you know your characters and show them well (emotions, conflict, etc,) that always helps.

Emma Lai said...

Beautiful post, Sarah! (Well, not the part about the hassles of technology. I'm about to get a new mini with Windows 7. Like you, I'm not a fan of learning new operating systems. My dad probably wonders why he paid for my computer engineering degree. LOL!)

I have to admit I'm not big on settings. I write what my character notices, but my characters aren't poetic for the most part so the descriptions are brief and I hope colorful.

Can't wait to read more of Melanie and Bradford's story!

E.A. West said...

Sarah, you have such interesting and informative posts! Because of that, I'm giving you the One Lovely Blog Award. Check it out here: http://thewestcorner.blogspot.com/2010/01/one-lovely-blog-award.html

Helen Hardt said...

Sarah, you never fail to crack me up! I love setting, but honestly it's only background to me. I focus much more on painting pictures of my characters.

Sarah Simas said...

Hey-O, Rebecca!

You do a wonderful job of setting. I'm really enjoying Surviving With Love. You definitely practice whatcha preach! :)

Sarah Simas said...

Hi Kaye,

I could see where journalism might make fiction writing be a little tight. Just the fact, ma'am! LOL As long as you give the reader something tangible, I think a minimalistic approach is fine.

I know there are some authors who wax on and on about the scene setting and it can get daunting. Johanna Lindsey would do that but more so with the history of the era. Fun for the first paragraph, more like school after that! ;)

Sarah Simas said...

HI Emma!

Oh, I know you'll enjoy the mini PC. Very handy and very light. Not nearly as cumbersome as a laptop. Just don't get one with a screw loose! LOL

I'm sure your scenes are very colorful. You have a talent for highlighting what's important to the scene. :)

Sarah Simas said...

Thank you, EA! I appreciate your kindness. You made my day! ((hugs!))

Sarah Simas said...

Howdy, Helen!

I would have to agree. You're characters are divine! I really enjoyed your excerpt at the Cougar blog. I added that book to my TBB list. You are just awesome, lady!

Laurean Brooks said...


First, I want to congratulate you on getting a new computer with Windows 7.

I had to upgrade last month. Also got Windows 7. Yep it's different, but better than that memory hog, Vista. With dial-up that just didn't jive. I was just thinkin' a few minutes ago.

"Here I am with a brand new computer with loads of RAM, but still on dial up. It's like having the mind of Einstein coupled with the body of George Burns. LOL

Let's see...what was the question? Oh! Something about settings and characters!

Okay. I don't like to write settings and description, but I try hard. Some have told me they wouldn't believe I struggle with those. But I do.

I'd rather get into my characters' heads. Write catchy dialog, have them bantering...or the hero thinking about the heroine (or visa-versa).

I enjoy creating characters with fire, spunk, and humor. Not your run-of-the-meal folks. It keeps the reader guessing what they will say or do next.

Does this make sense?

Sarah Simas said...

Makes perfect sense, Lauren!

Cookie cutter characters are like stale popcorn in that they don't fill you up. LOL I enjoy a character that is kind of quirky. (ha! what's that they say about birds of a feather?) I want a character that can steal my breath away. If an author can do that, I'm hooked.

I'm still in that ole honeymoon phase of Windows 7. We'll have to see what my impression is once I put it through the paces. Just when I thought I had Vista figured out . . . wham! Gotta learn W7!!

Thanks for swinging by!! :)

Micole Black said...

I hope that when a reader is in the midst of one of my books they feel at home. My characters are like old friends and the setting is somewhere they've always wished they lived! Maybe not some tropical get away, but another sort of peaceful setting.


Micole Black

Redameter said...

Well, used to a long time ago New York publishers wanted everyone to write like a poet and descirbe everything in detail. That's not so anymore. This is a high tech era where you have to throw a little here and a little there to paint the picture.

Sometime I disguise my prose with dailogue. Or in a tag line or is short descriptive sentence. But I try to use the senses to help me, how something smells, what something might taste like, how it sounds in the middle of the night. The senses can alert one to many things. So one has to develop a new way of painting the picture so to speak. Too much prose and the publishers get restless.

From one who had to learn the hard way, after learning to write like a poet, I had to totally relearn the craft. But even that was a fun travel.

Love and blessings

Cari Quinn said...

Fully describing the setting of a story isn't something that comes naturally to me. I tend to put too little detail in and have to go back in a final draft to flesh out the scenes. But when an author does it well - for example, Nora Roberts and my CP, Tara - the right description can be riveting and make the story so much richer. But it takes a skillful touch, one I'm working on developing.

Great post as always, Sarah! (And when I get my big truck, I'll "swing by" California and pick you up! LOL)

Jacquie Rogers said...

I'm like Cari--I have to go back and put description of clothes, setting in. My first draft is pretty much how I read (I skip a good share of the narrative), and since others don't read that way, I have to expand for them. The trick is to not ruin the rhythm of the pacing and humor.

Sarah Simas said...

Tropical getaway . . . um, we certainly have the rain, don't we, Micole?! With your vivacious personality and genuine spirit at the helm, how can your characters not be "udderly" fantastic! :) Yee-haw!

Sarah Simas said...

Hi Rita!

That's very interesting. I like your concept of using the senses. I've often wondered if historical authors ever make some of the dishes they describe. I think that would be a fun experiment . . . well, except for pickled fish. No, thanks!

I'm sure your writing is much stronger for having learned the two different writing styles. Probably lends your voice and a very unique edge! :)

Sarah Simas said...

Ah, it seems we are always learning and sculpting craft! But what fun to challenge our abilities! From the excerpts I've gotten to sneak-a-peek at, you're scenes aren't wanting for anything- least of all heat! *wink wink*

Ha! When you get your big ole truck, I'll whip out my repesssed country girl and we'll go muddin'!!LOL

Sarah Simas said...

Hi Jacquie!

I imagine with your witty humor every page shines!

Anne Patrick said...

Interesting post! I'm afraid I'm like a few of the others. I have to go back and add to the settings. My books are more action/dialogue driven with snippets of description tossed in here and there. Maybe it’s because as a reader I get bored with paragraph after paragraph of what a room looks like and tend to skip over it.