Bird Face Wendy

Things relevant to reading, writing, publishing or marketing teen fiction.

Using the Arts to Create Setting

on September 23, 2013

sculpture head

Perhaps you’ve written a middle-grade or young teen novel.  Or you’re reading one.

It’s natural for many of the scenes to take place at school or at someone’s home. Or maybe at a sporting event. Those places make up a big chunk of a young person’s world if he doesn’t drive.

But I love it when a story surprises me with a scene  at an art fair or museum, a dance recital, concert, or movie theater (some do consider movies “art”).  Although a change of scenery can play a part in the plot, it doesn’t have to—not for me, anyway.  I simply enjoy reading and writing about young characters’ interactions in  artsy settings where they might easily find themselves even if they don’t drive.

Opportunities abound for vivid writing to engage readers. Scene descriptions that employ sensory detail such as color, smell, sound—and often taste—make what’s going on with the characters in a scene all the more exciting. And there’s occasion for characters’ reactions to their surroundings, which can reveal their personalities and relationships or show character growth. In Bird Face, Wendy reveals a lot about herself when she watches her dancing best friend, Jennifer, practice and perform.

Reading and writing novels that use the arts to create setting have been a fun way for me to learn about some of the arts I’m less familiar with. Whether a character visits a junkyard sculpture booth at an art fair or attends a street music performance, you may find an art-loving character a lot more interesting to read and write about.

If that character is a jock or a farm kid or a villain, even better.

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