Purple Prose + setting

Setting in Conflict

Three weeks ago, I attended the first SCBWI conference in my city. One of my favorite talks dealt with something I struggle with: setting.

Crystal Stranaghan, publisher for Gumboot Books, did a great job of showing us how setting can be used in dishing out conflict. And it goes beyond the typical man against environment scenario we’re familiar with. You know, throw in a hurricane or blizzard when everything is going otherwise hunky- dory.

In her explanation, she used New Moon and Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer as an example. In the books, we have the protagonist, Bella. But unlike most of us, she has two guys mooning over her (excuse the pun!): Edward, the vampire, and Jacob, the werewolf. And let’s just say there’s major conflict between those two without adding anything else to the mix.

Because of a treaty, the Cullens (Edward’s vampire family) aren’t allowed to enter La Push, the native reserve where Jacob lives. Naturally, Edward’s fangs get bent out of shape because he can’t keep an eye on Bella whenever she visits her friend, Jacob, on his turf. Conflict.

The story takes place in Forks, the rainiest place in the States. On those rare sunny days that hit the town, Edward can’t be seen in public because he goes all glittery. Not exactly a human trait. That, too, makes it difficult to keep an eye on Bella. Conflict.

You get where I’m going with this? Stephenie did an awesome job in using the setting to heighten the conflict within the story.

So next time you’re looking for conflict, see if you can do the same within your story dynamics. Maybe all you need to do is change the location of the scene. Pretty cool, huh?

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Setting in Conflict + setting