Setting is Much More Than Time, Place, and Atmosphere

Moonday Mania

guest blogger Elaine Cougler

Last chance to enter to win one of ten e-copies of my brand-new, fantasy romance: The Dark Huntsman. Click HERE to enter, contest ends soon. Want to sample a bite? Click HERE for a teaser from chapter one.

Today instead of my typical romance authors I have the pleasure of introducing my online friend, Elaine Cougler. Despite living miles apart in different countries, going to school in different decades, and writing different genres, I am always amazed at how much Elaine and I have in common. One of those things is loving history and reading historical fiction. Elaine loves it so much that she has authored an amazing account of the American Revolutionary War, but from a totally unusual viewpoint: that of the Loyalists who moved to Canada. Her exciting tale of John and Lucy’s adventures is meticulously researched and thoroughly enjoyable. Usually I do an introduction for my guests, but if you sneak a peek down to the next paragraph, you’ll see Elaine has done a fabulous job introducing me! Please welcome Elaine Cougler to Jessica Aspen Writes.

A considerable benefit to taking my writing career on an extended trip through various social media is the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. Writing can be solitary and full of angst but people like Jessica who absolutely understand ease the journey. Thank you, Jessica, for inviting me to your blog today!

Setting is Much More Than Time, Place, and Atmosphere

The other day I was reading one of my favorite how-to writing magazines (The Writer, October, 2013) and came across an article on setting in novels and I was enthralled. Elfrieda Abbe not only talks about location under various headings (influences, credibility, character, emotion, atmosphere, and symbolism and theme) but she shows how David Rhodes, in Jewelweed, uses place to absolutely ground many aspects of his novel. After this excellent article comes an annotated segment of Jewelweed, showing just how certain sentences use Rhodes’ technique.

This is far advanced from what we learned in high school: setting equals time, place, and atmosphere. And the use of this technique helps readers to sink into the layers of the work in such a way as to lead them to a point where they are living the story and not just reading it.

In The Loyalist’s Wife, I used Lucy’s surroundings to show her loneliness, but also to underline the beauty of that unspoiled land. (The wilderness of 1778 New York State.)  And the contrast of that pristine beauty worked well against the scenes of punishing battles and even the interior struggles of both John and Lucy. In this excerpt the description of Lucy’s surroundings underlines her fear.

the loyalist's wife by elaine couglerHours later, a piece of wood in the fire fell and Lucy jerked upright, her wild eyes darting about the dark cabin. The candle had died. By the dim light from the stove she could see she was alone, but outside Molly [the cow] bawled and the chickens were clucking in a dreadful cacophony of frightening sounds. What was out there? She bumped against the table on the way to the window.

Solid black was all she saw through the running raindrops on the glass, except for a faint patch of limpid light, not even light, just a silver lightening in the grass, the window’s weak reflection. The animals settled and she breathed more slowly. They could wait till daylight.

The fire fixed, she went to the bedroom where she lay under the patchwork quilt, fully clothed, eyes wide open, the loaded rifle scant inches from her hand.

 

The Loyalist’s Wife:

When American colonists resort to war against Britain and her colonial attitudes, a young couple caught in the crossfire must find a way to survive. Pioneers in the wilds of New York State, John and Lucy face a bitter separation and the fear of losing everything, even their lives, when he joins Butler’s Rangers to fight for the King and leaves her to care for their isolated farm. As the war in the Americas ramps up, ruffians roam the colonies looking to snap up Loyalist land. Alone, pregnant, and fearing John is dead, Lucy must fight with every weapon she has.

With vivid scenes of desperation, heroism, and personal angst, Elaine Cougler takes us back to the beginnings of one great country and the planting of Loyalist seeds for another. The Loyalist’s Wife transcends the fighting between nations to show us the individual cost of such battles.

elaine couglerElaine blogs at On Becoming a Wordsmith which may be found at www.elainecougler.com. She also is frequently found here: @ElaineCougler, Facebook/ElaineCouglerAuthor, and LinkedIn author groups. The Loyalist’s Wife is available on Amazon (print and e-book) and Kobo (e-book).  www.amazon.com  www.kobo.com

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4 Comments

Filed under guest post, Moonday mania, writing craft

4 responses to “Setting is Much More Than Time, Place, and Atmosphere

  1. stlaurec

    Great post, Elaine, Jessica. One of my favorite setting is from Anne Rice’s novel The Witching Hour. New Orleans is like another character in the book.

  2. Oh, Jessica, everyone always talks about Rice’s vampires but I loved her witch series and the vampires not so much. I always wanted to go to New Orleans after the book you mention and am sorry I didn’t before Hurricane Katrina. Oh, well, some day I’ll make it there. Have you been?

  3. Good post and I like your example. Still looking forward to reading your book soon, hopefully in the next week. It’s on my wish list. Setting is a big part of what makes books so enjoyable to me. I’ve read two by Sarah Dunant, The Birth of Venus and In the Company of the Courtesan, that have rich descriptions making you feel as if you’re there. Love that.

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