My head’s full of setting and I can’t get up

I just took a Strengths workshop from Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  I had to write exercises and submit them, and the two writers analyzed them for strengths and weakness.  That’s as much as I can say about the workshop, since it’s a unique experience for each writer and nothing can prepare you (though being in the army helped me!).  It was apparently very difficult for them to do and they may be discontinuing them.

One of my weaknesses is simply getting setting into the story.  If I let my muse take full lead on a story, it’ll leave out the setting — all of it.

Some of it is because I don’t really see details in the same way.  I’m visual spatial, a learning style where details are a weakness.  I can think one detail is a lot, and so I can put in way too little and have no idea I’ve done it.  When I get them into the story in enough quantity, they’re pretty good.  It’s just that getting in part.

The other half is that it’s a long-ingrained habit that I have to break.  I’ve been leaving it out every since I started writing, which was a long time ago.  It gets worse for me if the setting doesn’t feel that important to the story.  Even if I have research setting details, it won’t migrate into the story.

The result I’ve been wrestling with starting some short stories and working at getting the setting in.  You’d think it would be easy, and yet, it’s like trying to drive with the brakes on.  I started out grabbing stacks of books from the library on places so I could do research, but I ended up feeling like I was full of all these setting details and the story was getting lost in the setting.

So I’m going to try something a little different and do a setting a day for the next 30 days, and hopefully it will help. No pressure of story, and I’m just going to focus on drawing on details that are happening that day locally.  I’ll post them up here once a week, and you’ll get a word tour of Washington, DC during Christmas.  The lights are already going up!

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