Friday, October 16, 2015

0 Put Your Setting to Work by C.C. Hunter

We're thrilled to welcome New York Times Best Selling Author C.C. Hunter to the blog today. She's here to share with us some wonderful insight into how to fully utilize your setting. Be sure to check below for her upcoming release in the Shadow Falls series: Unspoken!

Put Your Setting to Work: A Craft of Writing Post by C.C. Hunter

Setting. It’s just things, just the backdrop, just descriptions to prevent the reader from feeling like they are in a blank room, right? Wrong. If you aren’t putting your setting to work, then you are missing out on a great opportunity to add layers of richness to your work.

Where we are and what surrounds us helps define who we are. The same goes for your characters. Setting shows character. Our homes are supposed to be decorated in a way that expresses our unique style and personality. For sure, it expresses our incomes. What does your character’s home say about them? The clothes we wear are reflections of our personalities and even our moods. What do your heroine’s clothes say about her?

Let’s say you are writing a scene, and you show your character sitting down at a table, and she pushes something aside to make room for her glass of tea. Wait, is she drinking tea, or is she drinking a beer? Or is it hot green tea with a touch of mint? Or is it a glass of expensive red wine? Maybe a glass of wine that she just poured out of a box container? Or is it a Mason jar filled to the brim with Jack Daniels? Now, what does she push aside to make room for this drink? Is it her to-do list? Her Smartphone that her job requires she keep close at all times? Is it a stack of unpaid bills? A stack of romance novels? A gardening magazine? A magazine article on how to please a man in bed? Pictures of the cruise she just returned from? Her unsigned divorce papers? An unopened letter from her mother she hasn’t heard from in twenty years? Or is it a Colt .45?

By simply naming the type of drink she’s enjoying, and identifying the one item she nudges aside, you can give loads of insight into your character’s mood, personality, the tone of the book, the genre, and insights into the plot.

Let’s take that one more step. What is the weather in the scene you are writing? As she sits at the table, there’s a window. Is it storming? Sunny and beautiful? Is it hot and muggy? Have you used the weather to enhance the character’s mood? Maybe it’s storming to offer the scene a touch of eeriness.

Remember, oftentimes the contrast between setting and character’s mood, or setting and character’s personality, can also be a useful tool. i.e. Use the weather to contrast your character’s mood. How could it be sunny and perfect, how could the birds be chirping, when the dark storm of grief raged inside her? Want to show a good ol’ boy, ex-football player’s gruffness? Use the fish-out-of-water technique. Show him squirming in a lady’s tea room, where he can’t even fit his fingers into the cup handles.

What is the mood and emotion you are trying to evoke in your scene? Have you used the setting to help make your scene stronger? Or are you just tossing in a setting because you need one, and aren’t considering how that setting could work for you?

Whenever I feel a scene is lacking, I look at the setting to see how I can use it to add layers of richness to my pages. I look to see what emotion I’m trying to evoke in the scene. (And if I don’t have one, I need to find one. Every scene needs emotion.) Then I check to see if something in the setting can enhance that emotion. I try to make the setting: hint at suspense, deepen my characterization, help explain my point of view, or give insights to my character. You are God of this world, and everything you put into your novel can show something about your character or enhance the plot.

Make sure all descriptions are written from your point of view character. A guy wouldn’t notice the perfect shade of mauve in a flower painting and a girly-girl might not know the make of a muscle car.

Ask yourself why a character is noticing certain things. Why? Because our moods drive what we notice. If a person is lonely, she may notice all the happy couples who are holding hands and whispering into each other’s ears. If a person just lost their mom, she may notice all the elderly women at the grocery store and how difficult it is for them to get some of the items from the shelf. She may wonder if her own mom had trouble and wish she’d been there to help. If a woman has just been called back to do more tests after a mammogram, she might notice the woman wearing a scarf over her bald head. If a character is already behind on bills, and is now scared of losing her job, she may notice a homeless woman and wonder if that is where she is heading.

Below, is the first draft of the beginning paragraphs of Eternal, the second book in my paranormal series, Shadow Falls: After Dark. Next, see how I changed the setting, or rather just changed a color, which then led to more insight into my character, who happens to be a vampire.

First draft:

Della Tsang swung one leg outside her bedroom window. The sun had risen but hung in the eastern horizon, spilling just enough light to paint the sky with pinks and purples. The color had her wanting to pause and appreciate it.

Later. First things first.

She knew what she had to do—hadn’t slept half the night because of it.

Rewritten draft:

Della Tsang swung one leg outside her bedroom window. The sun had risen but hung in the eastern horizon, spilling just enough light to paint that strip of sky a blood-red. The color had her mouth watering.

Her empty stomach rumbled. She needed blood. Later.

First things first.

She knew what she had to do—hadn’t slept half the night because of it.

Your setting is not the only tool of storytelling writer’s have, but for certain, it can help you build a fictional world that is filled with emotion and wonderful characters.

About the Book

Despite her superhuman strength and enhanced senses, Della Tsang's life as a vampire certainly hasn't been easy. Especially since she was reborn and bound to the mysterious, infuriating, and gorgeous Chase Tallman.

But if there's one thing that's always kept Della going, it's her dream of being an elite paranormal investigator. Her newest case is the opportunity she's been waiting for, but as Della tries to solve the twenty year old murder and clear her father's name. She uncovers secrets about the vampire council. And about Chase.

Feeling betrayed by all the secrets he's kept hidden from her, Della is determined to keep him as far away from her heart as she can. But she'll need his help to solve the case that will lead them into the darkest and ugliest vampire gangs in town and into the scariest reaches of her heart.

Amazon | Goodreads

About the Author

C.C. Hunter, AKA, Christie Craig, a New York Times Bestseller, is an Alabama native, a multi-published writer, motivational speaker, and writing teacher. She currently hangs her hat in Texas and writes the USA Today best-selling young adult paranormal romance series, Shadow Falls, published by St. Martin's Press/Griffin. When, C.C. is not writing her young adult novels, she is working on her humorous romantic suspense novels which she self publishes. Learn more at or

-- posted by Susan Sipal, @HP4Writers

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