Saturday, October 26, 2013

One of ECWC's most facsinating workshops presented by Mary Buckham!

Today, I wanted to share with you another workshop that I found utterly fascinating, extremely helpful for future creativity and a heck of a lot of fun. My friend, Mary Buckham is a genius when it comes to sharing knowledge and presenting facts that - when explained properly - make so much sense.

Often, she gives courses for the members of RWA on their University site and I’ve been fortunate to have signed up for her latest on Settings. In fact, I liked that course so much; that I also went to her ‘Writing Active Settings’ workshop in Seattle. Figured I reconfirm what I’d learned. Plus I’d get to watch a pro in action.

And trust me. This lady is a pro. In a good way!!

Through the examples she chose to read, she made settings so vivid and imaginative that one instantly realizes what a tool we’re missing if we don’t incorporate some of her suggestions into our own work.

There were seven reasons she gave us as to why settings should be taken seriously.

1 – Show characterization

2 – Show details

3 – Reveal emotion and build tension

4 – Set up backstory

5 – Foreshadow conflict

6 – Make a sequence active

7 – Can be written as a character

Setting can anchor the reader and orient him as to:

-         The time of day

-         Where the characters are

-         How much time has passed


I’ll give you an example of what I mean by time passing. Rather than falling back on those same old transitional phrases we all use such as: Sometime later… or Days passed… let’s try writing a setting such as Mary suggests.

By the time the cops released Anne, the fresh red roses she’d purchased the day of her arrest were wilted, the stems congealed in slimy green water.

Do you see what I mean? By showing the state of the roses, the reader knows that Anne must have been held for days.
I’ve been playing with this setting stuff and it’s kinda fun. You’ll use more words, it’ll take some thought but it really can add a lot more oomph to your story. **If you write suspense or thrillers, you might want to be careful not to slow down the tempo especially in an action scene.

And remember too much of a good thing is still – too much. Use it sparingly, pick places where it’ll add and not detract from the pacing. And if you want to know much more than the small bit I’ve shown you here, go to Mary’s website. You’ll see she has books for sale there, very reasonably priced, that will explain this to you in much more detail and with a heck of a lot more skill than I have.




  1. Thank you for a great recap, Mimi!! Glad the concepts worked for you. So easy to grasp and apply!! Cheers ~ Mary B :-)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hi Mary,
    Easy for you maybe - not so darn easy for the rest of us LOL. But well worth the effort. Take care...