Sunday, April 30, 2006

Settings & News

Alas it seems the clown has no other takers so time to move on. *g* I've spent the past few days being horribly lazy, sleeping far too much and doing no housework ie. devolving back to a teenager the second I step foot in my family home. In my defense, I've been sick. (Yes, I know - I come ALL this way, only to crash and burn. What's with that?).

But now I'm basically okay and have work to do - copy edits for SLAVE TO SENSATION - so I'm cranking myself back to life. One thing I did notice over the past few days is the difference in culture between Japan and New Zealand. Of course I knew that fact already, but seeing the contrast makes it so much more real. It made me wonder about the effect the realism of settings has on the reader.

For example, in DESERT WARRIOR, I created a very descriptive desert sheikdom that was as much a part of the story as the two main characters, while in SECRETS IN THE MARRIAGE BED, I deliberately placed the setting in the background, because the story was of a different kind - a more intense focus on what was going on behind the closed doors of Vicki and Caleb's marriage.

As a reader, I don't like long passages of setting description. But I know not everyone thinks like that. To some readers, the setting must be as well described as any of the characters because it plays a crucial part in their enjoyment of the story. Which camp do you fall in? And what impact does a realistic setting have on your liking/disliking a book?

p.s. I have news. Really cool news which I shall be revealing next week so watch this space!

7 comments :

Emma Sinclair said...

Welcome back, hope you're feeling better!

Can I be wishy washy in the answer to your question? I think there's a time and place (ha) for lots of setting detail and then there's time for it to be in the background.

Can't wait to hear your news!

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Glad you are doing good... I was on a spring road trip yesterday. We had fun. Saw lots of birds. Ate lunch... Just a typical fun day.

Kendra Clark said...

I'm glad you are feeling better. I think just enough detail for the reader to get a visual. I really don't like loads of detail. Sometimes I feel as though I'm wading over detail to get to the story. To me, that's when it's too much.

Can't wait to hear your news :)

3jen said...

Hi Nalini, I generally don't like passages of setting description, because as a reader I want to cut to the chase, but I do enjoy telling details that make the setting pop, particularly if they are something kind of unusual that is unique to that setting and which I wouldn't have thought of.

I loved the descriptions of Zulheil in Desert Warrior--the palace carved from rare stone *sigh*.

Jen

Milady Insanity said...

I want to feel as though I'm there, but I don't want the description to make the book drag.

Given fast, good pacing and good description, I'll take fast pacing any day.

JLB said...

As a general rule, I love well-crafted settings and their descriptions, so long as they are a) pertinent to the story, b) well-written, and c) effectively incorporated into the flow of the narrative.

For example, in Moby Dick by Herman Melville, or the more recent Master and Commander series by Patrick O'Brian, there is a lot of time spent describing the ships, the sea, and the surroundings. I really enjoyed that, especially because I don’t know a lot about ships – these descriptions bring the stories to life, and really bring me into the characters, even if some of the descriptions are long (and occasionally belabored).

Another example would be one of my favorite books from childhood, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodges Burnett. Descriptions of setting in this story, as with many other stories, pop into my head all the time. There are certain images in my mind from specific phrases of setting that made the book come alive for me.

In some ways, well-crafted setting descriptions are among the more powerful draws for me in a well-written story, and sometimes the most memorable parts!

Nalini Singh said...

Hey guys!

Thanks, Emma, I am. And wishy-washyness (ie, being able to see both sides) is always allowed on the blog of a former lawyer ;)

Sounds like a nice day, Cynthia!

Hey is that your new cover, Kendra? Look verrrry nice!

Hi Jen - I totally indulged myself with Zulheil and I'm still so fascinated by it that I want to write another book set there LOL

Milady - I'm with you on the fast pacing, so long as it's not breakneck.

JLB - it's interesting how the setting is so impactful for you. I tend to skip a lot of description, so it's good to hear the point of view of someone for whome those very descriptions are the heart of the story. Really makes the point that every reader is different, no?