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Setting: How to Create and Sustain a Sharp Sense of Time and Place in Your Fiction
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Setting: How to Create and Sustain a Sharp Sense of Time and Place in Your Fiction

(Elements of Fiction Writing)

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  131 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Even with great characters, a gripping plot and outstanding dialogue, a story isn't complete without the appropriate setting-the unifying element in most fiction. Jack Bickham shows how to use sensual detail, vivid language and keen observations to craft settings which help tell credible, interesting stories and heighten dramatic and thematic effects. Over the course of hi ...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published February 15th 1994 by Writer's Digest Books
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3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  131 ratings  ·  16 reviews

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Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book covers setting in relationship to plot, character, theme, mood, tone and atmosphere. It discusses setting as the backbone of your story, presenting factual material and how to fudge those facts, and the importance of history and the associated cultural attitudes. Lastly, this book looks at style--using precise language in setting and how to write strong, vivid settings. The appendices are helpful, especially Nancy Berland's setting research form. There is an updated version of this boo ...more
Anna Erishkigal
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have both this version and also the newer Elements of Fiction Writing book on setting (Description and Setting by Rozelle being the other version). Of the two, I found this one to be slightly more helpful in fleshing out the setting-as-a-character in my epic fantasy work. This is the older of the two, so it refers to other ways of absorbing-and-disseminating setting than the internet-research heavy newer version by Rozelle. When it comes to setting, there is nothing like being there and speaki ...more
Katia M. Davis
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
This was alright, some very useful topics on integrating setting with character emotion and theme to ground a piece of work and keep it moving at the same time. A little outdated on the research guidelines, but it was written in 1994. I tend to do most of my research online using things like Google Earth, JSTOR and local online newspapers. If I need to learn something such as the basics of dressage (not that I would!), I'd hit Google, a few related sites and then look for magazines or blogs/foru ...more
Rainboe Sims-Jones
Jan 03, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
Bickham explains the importance of conducting adequate research when choosing a setting for a story. He elaborates on expectations of the reader, how the setting affects the characters moods and the tone of the story. Bickham offers many valuable insights, especially regarding research. He has extensive writing experience as detailed in his biography, leaving no doubt to the depth of his knowledge.
Jessica Baumgartner
Jun 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Every writer needs to keep learning to sharpen their skills. This book probably aided writers more twenty years ago when it came out, but his examples and some of the tips are more damaging nowadays due to the modern style of writing meant keep readers engaged in the fast paced tech savy world. I picked up some good info, but struggled to finish because it gets really dry past the halfway point.
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: how-to-write
This is a great resource, but it can be a pretty dry topic.
Joana Stoyanova
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing-done
I found "Setting: How to Create and Sustain a Sharp Sense of Time and Place in Your Fiction" by Jack Bickham quite useful at times but the writing style put me to sleep more times than I care to count. I understand that it is supposed to be a serious read, educational, but for me a sign of a good writer is somebody who can keep your attention (no matter what the book is about) and provide you the information they wish to convey in an interesting and engaging way. So hence my 3-star review. :)
Brandon Peters
Good tips throughout. I liked the significance he placed on setting, although I felt some of the techniques could easily feel forced (continually returning to a certain object in a setting to unify your story or using setting to move the readers perspective from big-picture action to introspective thoughts.)

Also, he includes many exercise ideas that require significant effort and research. I couldn't tell whether I thought they'd be worth while or not, but perhaps some writers might benefit much
Serge Pierro
Oct 01, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
Jack Bickham's "Setting" is another book in the "Elements of Fiction Writing". Here he addresses the topic of the setting of your story, and gives instruction on how to make your world lifelike. Another decent book in the series.
Sep 28, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Competent, quick book. It kind of felt as though the chapter divides were arbitrary - everything was an extension of the main point, that setting determines character and plot types.
Jan 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-books
A very useful book on one of the least understood aspects of fiction writing.
Jul 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Few examples, most of the time from his own books, and not at all exhaustive.
Oct 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
The writing's long-winded.
David Fortier
I need to go back to this one since it is so important to fantasy writing, or perhaps find a newer source to help understand what I'm missing.
Jakk Makk
Aug 05, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm fond of Jack Bickham's books, particularly "Scene and Structure." I benefitted and would recommend this to writers who haven't yet read a book on the subject.
Aug 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
Pretty basic, but then that is what this series is designed to be.
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