Okay, if you’re like me, the word setting conjures a place—a sunny beach or a windy mountaintop or a blue blue lake or a primeval forest. Your job as the writer is to struggle with the task of finding the perfect details to create that perfect setting and then weave them into your story to create that setting, from your character’s point of view, of course, so the reader doesn’t die from boredom.
So, I needed a subtle shift in my thinking. Setting is place, but it is also time. As you tell your story, your characters move through time, day to day. One way to easily keep track of those days – and this was a great trip I received from a published author years ago – is to use a calendar for each scene of your story. You don’t want the days of your story to feel the same. After all, Mondays in real life feel different than Sundays. They should feel different in your character’s life also.
The trick is to think about your protagonist. Does he/she go to school or work? What do they do Mondays through Fridays? How does their life change when the weekend hits? If your story takes place over four months, you don’t have to reflect every day, but you have to know which day it is and drop hints to the reader so they have the feeling that time is passing.
The easiest way to keep track of the different days is to record each scene on a calendar. You can either do this when you are writing your first draft or you can begin this in the revision stage. In either case, when you constantly refer back to the calendar, you force yourself to be aware of the day and you can reflect that information in your story.
Next month: Down and Dirty, Step #9 Incorporate Visceral Responses when your Point of View Character Reacts