Setting—The Silent Character

24 Sep

I love deep, complex characters. They tend to be my main focus when I’m writing; however, I am very aware of the importance of setting in creating stories that resonate with the reader. As such, I’ve started casting setting as a silent character in my books. Doing so tricks me into giving setting as much attention as it deserves. I spend lots of time trying to make it as real as possible, giving it all the details and personality I would give one of my other well-loved characters.

In my new book, Beyond Eden, I used Tampa, Florida as the setting for my modern day Eden, where a wooden lake house serves as the haven for my three protagonists, Danny, Paul, and Eve to come together in this very passionate, emotional tale.

Instead of treating the setting as a mere backdrop, I used the characters’ vision and opinions about their birth city as a tool to make Tampa vivid. Eve, an artist, identifies with the beauty and romance of older homes like the lake house, and the wild, untamed nature of the Tampa marshlands. Yet, she recoils from the commercialism and its contrast to the parts of Tampa she adores. Danny, part Cuban, gravitates to the rich Cuban culture of the area, particularly that in Ybor city. He’s a talented Cuban cook who shows his love with a home cooked meal or a hot cup of Cuban coffee, capturing the heart of the Cuban culture through food. Through Paul, a career-driven lawyer, we see the harsher realities of corporate America that are as present in Tampa as in any major city.

Through the eyes of these three characters, I was able to paint a vibrantly complete picture of the city. It was an exciting way to give my setting personality—to take slices of Tampa and present them through three very different sets of eyes to paint a complete picture. In the end, I think the setting resonates with the reader as something vital, alive, and essential to the story as a secondary, albeit silent, character.

Visit Ellora’s Cave to read an excerpt from Kele Moon’s debut novel Beyond Eden:

http://www.jasminejade.com/p-8612-beyond-eden.aspx

Kele Moon’s website:

http://www.kelemoon.com

COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN!! We’re giving away a free copy of Beyond Eden to one lucky person who comments :D

32 Responses to “Setting—The Silent Character”

  1. Temple Hogan September 24, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    Great blog, Kele. You showed very well how important a setting is and how each character reacts to it from their own place. I’ll be giving a lot more thought to my settings and my character’s reactions. Seeing it through their eyes is more vibrant than just telling the reader about it. Super job. Temple

  2. kelemoon September 24, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

    Thanks, Temple!!

    It made it fun for me to write it like that. . . To show how one place is different to each character and combined it created the whole picture! And the feedback has been good. I’ve gotten compliments on the setting of the story, so it must have worked!

    Thank you again!

    Kele

    • naramalone September 24, 2010 at 6:19 pm #

      I love stories that treat setting as character. Using characters with different values and bringing a complex setting to life through their eyes was a brilliant way to pull that off, Kele.

      • kelemoon September 24, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

        Thanks, Nara!

        It was really the only way I could trick myself into doing it and luckily it worked!
        :D

        Kele

  3. Lauren Fraser September 24, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

    Great post. I love when the setting of a good story is so real you can almost smell it.

    • kelemoon September 24, 2010 at 6:33 pm #

      LOL! I HOPE it’s that’s good. . .

      Thanks, Lauren!

      Kele

  4. Cathy M September 24, 2010 at 7:11 pm #

    Great post, Kele, its like you have made the city one of the characters. Since I’ve never been to Tampa myself, that will just enrich the story for me.

    • kelemoon September 24, 2010 at 7:13 pm #

      :D I love Tampa, when I moved there I was enthralled with the richness of it. . . I must love it! I grew up in Hawaii, but used Tampa as my setting for “Eden”

      Thanks, Cathy!
      :D

      Kele

    • kelemoon September 27, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

      Congratulations, Cathy! You won a copy of Beyond Eden! Email me at Kelemoon@me.com and I’ll get it to you!

      YAY!

      Kele

  5. susan leech September 24, 2010 at 8:18 pm #

    Hi Kele..what an interesting article and so glad to get to know about you and your books. I think this book Beyond Eden may be just what I need this time of year. I hope to be entered in your contest here and hope to keep in touch with the group now that I found you all. I am retired but that sure doesn’t mean I gave up on reading a good sexy book. I think the books makes my blood flow better and is better medicine than what any doctor can give me. ha ha susan L.

    • kelemoon September 24, 2010 at 11:31 pm #

      Thanks, Susan!!

      Good luck to you!
      :D

      Kele

  6. Fedora September 24, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    That sounds fun, Kele! I’ve never been to Tampa but love the idea that I get to visit it virtually through your story! I do enjoy when an author takes me arm-chair traveling as a bonus in the reads I choose! Congrats on Beyond Eden!

    • kelemoon September 24, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

      I love that too! I’m a big armchair traveler!

      Thanks, Fedora!

      Kele

  7. Marilyn Campbell September 24, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    Wonderful article!

    • kelemoon September 25, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

      Thanks, Marilyn!!

      That means a lot!!
      :D

      Kele

  8. Lena September 24, 2010 at 10:12 pm #

    Maybe we’ll get a sequel set in the Big Apple? I’d love to see your take on that. :)

    • kelemoon September 24, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

      You never know. . .I’d love to write that!! Right now, I’m writing Danny and Paul’s prequel story and that’s in Tampa, of course–but, still. . .You never know :D

      Thanks, Lena!!

      Kele

  9. Andrea I September 24, 2010 at 11:52 pm #

    I always liked that area of Florida. My grandmother lived in St. Pete. I remember visiting my father’s aunt and uncle who lived near Tampa out in the orange groves in a little old country house.

    • kelemoon September 24, 2010 at 11:54 pm #

      It’s an interesting place, because there are places that are so rural. . .And others that are bustling with the buzz of corporate America.

      Thanks, Andrea!

      Kele

  10. Sheekah September 25, 2010 at 1:52 am #

    Great post Kele. I have a story set in Jamaica and one on a fictional island and I’ll have to go back over what I’ve written to consider the setting as a character. I know how important it is to let readers see what the characters are seeing but I have not been thinking of the setting as an actual character. I can see how that shift in thinking can allow/force the descriptions to be even more compelling…Thanks!!

    • kelemoon September 25, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

      Sheekah!

      Oh, Jamaica, what an awesome place for a setting! And an island as well. . . I’m an island girl at heart. I love any tropical setting!

      I can’t wait to read them!!
      :D

      Kele

      • Sheekah September 27, 2010 at 5:18 am #

        They say write what you know and I do know island life so I figure I’d stick with that… I’m definitely an island girl and you’ve got me thinking of/seeing the island in a new way. :)

      • kelemoon September 27, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

        HEE! I have some Hawaii novels stashed away for a rainy day. . . One of these days I’ll finish them because I love writing island life too!! SO very much!

        Now I’m homesick!
        :D

        Kele

  11. authorheatherhoward September 25, 2010 at 2:01 am #

    I love your insights into scene and setting, Kele. I admit, I never really understood what people meant when they talked about setting as a character in and of itself, but this has given me a fresh perspective. Great blog!

    • kelemoon September 25, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

      Thanks, Heather!!

      I don’t know if the tactic can work for everyone, but since character writing is my strength it helped me a lot! I really had to do that because my dialogue carries my stories and my prose always takes more work—soooo, yeah :D

      Thanks again!

      Kele

  12. Kaily Hart September 25, 2010 at 3:08 am #

    I love to read books that deal with a place I’ve never been. Having lived in many varied towns and cities, I understand those elements that only someone who has experienced it personally would be aware of. I love to delve into stories that give me that perspective for foreign places, or those foreign to me. Great post!

    • kelemoon September 25, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

      Wow. . .Having lived so many places, that gives you a whole host of places to use as settings–because I do think it’s easier if you are similar with the location. Lucky you!

      Thanks, Kaily!

      Kele

  13. Lindsey Ekland September 25, 2010 at 8:02 am #

    Setting can be another character in the story or convey a mood or idea about a person. A story set in Vegas will have a different feel and flow then one set in Montana. So while I do not look for stories set in particular places, I do want the setting to support the hero and heroine.

    • kelemoon September 25, 2010 at 5:41 pm #

      Lindsey,

      I agree. . . Very good point about where you set the story affecting the entire mood of it!! I love that!

      Thanks!

      Kele

  14. Sara September 25, 2010 at 9:17 am #

    Great post! I love the idea of the setting playing an important role and transforming/adapting depending on the characters.
    Can’t wait to read this novel.

    • kelemoon September 27, 2010 at 8:57 pm #

      Thanks, Sara!!
      :D

      Kele

  15. kelemoon September 27, 2010 at 9:23 pm #

    The winner of the free copy of Beyond Eden is Cathy M!

    Congratulations!!

    ::throws confetti::

    Kele

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