Sunday, October 14, 2007
"Place" in fiction
When reader 3 read my WIP, the first non-family member to read it, she red-circled a few parts where I actually described Detroit in more than a sentence or two. Described the politics or level of decay or why there is no shopping in the city or what the public transporation is like. There were only descriptions of a few sentences in each case, but for her it brought the story to a halt. She asked me if I couldn't get the information into a conversation or put it in in some less static way. Or get rid of it and assume if the reader wanted to know about Detroit he'd read another kind of book. I understand her point and in a short story I'd never do this, but I wonder when this sort of thinking took hold. Years ago, we were very willing to allow writers to describe the setting. Now it's all dialogue and short punchy paragraphs in between. I know your thoughts about backstory, but what about setting? Don't a few grafs here and there help you understand the setting? Isn't forcing it into a converstion just as annoying because how often do people actually talk about it in a crime fiction novel? Any examples of writer's who write about their city/town well without being didactic or boring?