Thursday, February 13, 2014

Weekly Writing Wrambling - Settings, Part One

Aaaaand we're back. Remember when I was going to post Weekly Writing Wrambling entires...weekly? And on Thursdays? Yeah, me too. Anyway, as I was writing my Veronica Mars post, I got somewhat caught up on the idea of high school as a storytelling setting, which made me this this could be a good topic for a post. Or posts, as it will now be.

The issue with settings is that there is no rule because genres are too diverse. Consider Science Fiction: you could have the setting be an entirely different planet, different era, and with different dynamics. Perhaps your society does not have schools, but rather has cryogenic tanks where people age until adulthood. So there is no rule, but there are guidelines that should be considered.

Life, regardless of what genre you are choosing to write in, is somewhat divided into three areas: our social lives, our working lives (which includes school), and our home lives. The next three weeks I am going to talk about the needs each area has, with one (maybe more) posts after that to discuss how the three interact. This week, I will discuss work life.

Work life is the area that can be most easily skipped. Does it really matter if your teenage protagonist goes to school when your book is over summer break? But then again, if you are writing a mystery, your focus would be on the protagonist's work life. Work life can also be incredibly social or rather lonely, and maybe it can be both depending on the situation. However, because work is such a significant part of our lives, it needs to be a significant part of a character's life. Even if one's story is not taking place at work, the stresses and situations one must deal with at work bleeds over into a person's social and home lives.

Because of this, it is important to have one’s work life well thought out, even if it does not change the story at all. A work life can be sporadic, but there is usually some sort of schedule. For students, I have always found it useful to create a class schedule for them and their friends. With a person who is in some sort of shift schedule, it may be useful to create a similar schedule with what their jobs entail during various days and times. Do Tuesdays involve unpacking deliveries? When does the next week’s schedule get posted? Even a 9-5 job might include weekly meetings that can be scheduled. Small details like that might not make it into the pages, but again, a casual reference is going to make your story seem more realistic.

Additionally, it is a good idea to know the responsibilities of one’s job. Go on a job searching site and look at the job descriptions. Get an idea of what your character needs to do at work, and what skills they probably have. Maybe they are a secretary; in that case, they would probably have Work and Excel prowess, be organized, have a good phone manner, and be somewhat people-friendly. Again, will it ever come up in your story that your character can make a mean spreadsheet? Perhaps not. But if it comes up, then you know whether your character can or cannot do it.

In short, work life might be skipped or might be focused on. However, the more you know about the character, the more you know about them. Remember, work life always overflows and creates stresses that you have to deal with in your social and home lives. Get a firm understanding of the work setting and your character will be more realistic for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment