PUT ME THERE
I write southern fiction. Why? Well, because that's where my roots dig deepest, burrowing through the red clay of my childhood. And if we were to have a conversation, you'd see I am very good at TELLING stories. With words and gestures, facial expressions and body language, tone and inflection, I can put you in precisely the exact moment when my story takes place. So, WHY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH DO I HAVE TROUBLE WRITING SETTING?
My mentoring professor recently (and rightly - no shade thrown at the prof) pinched my writing nerves with a zinger of a comment and I'm still struggling with the limp. She said, "Southern fiction is rich and lush. You write beautifully! But man, you are almost obstinate in your lack of setting!"
Ouch! Reading back through my submissions, she's not wrong. The problem, my problem, is that I don't want to slow the pace of the story with setting details. I'm unsure exactly how to weave colorful bits of frayed quilts and cracked laminate countertops into my story without being distracting. I pay attention to how other authors do it. But when I try, I come up with kindergarten phrases like "The grass is green. Very green." Grump. I don't want to rely on metaphor and analogy. I want to make my readers FEEL the greenness. Those sharp, punch-you-in-the-face neon greens of early spring, the seductive and generous emeralds of full blown summer, and the dusty, brown-around-the-edges mature olives retreating into fall. I can see them behind my eyelids...how do I write them so my readers can see them too?
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