Today's helpful hint comes from the book Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass.
How does your setting make people feel? That is the key, not how a place looks but its psychological effect on the characters in your novel.
Kriston's to do list:
-write convincing setting.....check
-provide details, cannot be vague......check
-keep it short so we don't slow down pace......check
-draw reader into the setting by invoking a feeling and sense of place.......What?
As a novice this is something I never thought of, not even once. But now that it has been brought to my attention I realize all of my favorite novels have done this. I think back to the warm fuzzies I get every time I think about visiting Hogwarts. Of course we love Harry but it's the magic of the setting that helps complete the picture.
On the not so pleasant side, some times things just need to creep our characters out or make them (and us) uncomfortable. I think of "The Hunger Games". Not only are the characters thrust into a dire situation, they are also dumped off in the middle of a very uninviting setting. Extreme temperatures, lack of food and water, all of which help give a sense of despair.
One of the ways I decided to try to accomplish this is to treat the setting like a character itself. Not with story arc and growth but with details and description to give it a "personality". Or maybe have them react to a certain element in their surroundings.
So....come up with original and exciting plot, weave in detail and subplots, create characters we care about and cause some sort of psychological effect on said characters to watch them grow while keeping up a steady pace to ensure the most entertaining story possible......*stops to remind self to take deep breath and count to ten* Some times I wonder why we do this to ourselves.