There is an element to all good stories that is often forgotten. It is always present but, even when well-written, sometimes overlooked. It sits quietly, playing its dutiful part, rarely drawing attention to itself. Yet, it’s there. There is an age-old debate about whether the greatest stories are character-driven or plot-driven. In my opinion, there is no wrong answer to this query because a story’s success inevitably lies in the eyes of the reader. And while authors spend countless hours developing characters and plots, the forgotten element remains.
What is this element? What could be so important yet so unassuming it remains constant yet unnoticed? The forgotten element is a story’s setting. Good stories rely on characters and plots to keep a reader’s interest but subtle nuances, like setting, serve to truly enhance a tale.
Whether it is Tolkien’s frightful description of Mordor, the hidden dorm rooms in Rowling’s Hogwarts, or in the case of my first novel, Cold Ambition, the roof’s edge of a high-rise offering a spectacular view of Faneuil Hall, a scene’s setting brings a story to life in ways characters and plots cannot reach alone.
So the next time you’re in your cozy chair with a cup of hot cocoa in hand, eager to leave the world behind and enter the exciting realm of your favorite characters, take time to appreciate the forgotten element. Allow it to bring you and the story to another level. It will make your experience even richer.
Cold Ambition, coming Summer 2014 from Soul Mate Publishing