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Description & Setting - Write Great Fiction

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For a story to be successful, it must come alive on the page. With Description & Setting, you will learn how to make every detail count as you create believable people, places and events. This valuable reference: -Shows you how to master the challenging - and often overlooked - subjects of description and setting -Offers hands-on action-and-results excercises that allow you For a story to be successful, it must come alive on the page. With Description & Setting, you will learn how to make every detail count as you create believable people, places and events. This valuable reference: -Shows you how to master the challenging - and often overlooked - subjects of description and setting -Offers hands-on action-and-results excercises that allow you to incorporate lessons into your own work -Provides busy writers, such as yourself, with accessible information through sidebars, excercises, checklists and more With clear examples from popular fiction and tips for specific genres, bringing a story to life has never been this easy or this fun. Ron Rozelle is the author of three books, including the P.E.N Prize national finalist Into That Good Night. A recipient of the Stephen F. Austin Father of Texas Award, he teaches creative writing at workshops and universities, as well as at Brazoswood High School on the Texas Gulf coast.


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For a story to be successful, it must come alive on the page. With Description & Setting, you will learn how to make every detail count as you create believable people, places and events. This valuable reference: -Shows you how to master the challenging - and often overlooked - subjects of description and setting -Offers hands-on action-and-results excercises that allow you For a story to be successful, it must come alive on the page. With Description & Setting, you will learn how to make every detail count as you create believable people, places and events. This valuable reference: -Shows you how to master the challenging - and often overlooked - subjects of description and setting -Offers hands-on action-and-results excercises that allow you to incorporate lessons into your own work -Provides busy writers, such as yourself, with accessible information through sidebars, excercises, checklists and more With clear examples from popular fiction and tips for specific genres, bringing a story to life has never been this easy or this fun. Ron Rozelle is the author of three books, including the P.E.N Prize national finalist Into That Good Night. A recipient of the Stephen F. Austin Father of Texas Award, he teaches creative writing at workshops and universities, as well as at Brazoswood High School on the Texas Gulf coast.

30 review for Description & Setting - Write Great Fiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    Writing books are so dififcult to rate, because their value is in how they improve my writing or give me inspiration/insights into writing. If it tells me something I already know, then it's "not as good" as a book that told me something new. But to another reader, the "obvious" information may be something they've never known, and have great leaps in their writing progress as a result. So, for me at least, this book covered a lot of things I knew, but a few different ways to approach descriptive Writing books are so dififcult to rate, because their value is in how they improve my writing or give me inspiration/insights into writing. If it tells me something I already know, then it's "not as good" as a book that told me something new. But to another reader, the "obvious" information may be something they've never known, and have great leaps in their writing progress as a result. So, for me at least, this book covered a lot of things I knew, but a few different ways to approach descriptive writing. My favorite thing in the book was the passages from different novels. Rozelle has a terrific eye for picking beautiful passages. I read Perfume: The Story of a Murderer because the passage from this book was amazing. Really, if you're not a writer but simply love books with great description, pick up this book and flip through to find the excerpts from other novels. You can create a "to read" list just from that.

  2. 4 out of 5

    E.F. Jace

    Definitely a book you want to pick up. This book doesn't just tackle description in regards to setting, it tackles setting and how it effects the flow of your story, how it can effect your themes, your characters and then it tackles how you'll want to go about describing pretty much anything in your work, characters, themes, moods, keeping your dialogue paced well in relation to using dialogue tags and, of course, how to go about describing the physical setting itself. There's even a section wher Definitely a book you want to pick up. This book doesn't just tackle description in regards to setting, it tackles setting and how it effects the flow of your story, how it can effect your themes, your characters and then it tackles how you'll want to go about describing pretty much anything in your work, characters, themes, moods, keeping your dialogue paced well in relation to using dialogue tags and, of course, how to go about describing the physical setting itself. There's even a section where Rozelle gives a brief (and unfortunately in some of the genre's cases, very brief) overview of how the setting and use of description would work for each genre. Even if you're confident that you've got description and setting in the bag, take a look. I promise you there are a few things that will surprise you. And not because you didn't KNOW them but maybe it's something you just altogether forgot about, one of those pesky common mistakes. My only qualm with the book overall is the language used within the book itself. It's both useful and incredibly annoying. If you're paying attention you'll be able to pick out points where Rozelle uses a technique that was just described, so it's a quaint way to see it in action without being told, pay attention to this! On the other hand, I did roll my eyes once or twice and go "Okay, we get it, I know how to use a simile and a metaphor." Or, "Yes, I see how the use of shorter sentences along side longer sentences can elicit different moods and be useful in terms of establishing your voice." But really, if that's the only thing wrong with the book, and I really think it is, it's worth a look. If anyone is still in doubt about whether or not the book will be useful, here's a quick look at what each of the twelve chapters discuss: Chapter One: The introduction, this chapter looks at just why you should give a hoot about setting and description, the functions they serve, along with some examples. Chapter Two: Entitled 'Learning to Pay Attention', that's exactly what this chapter covers. The little things you should pay attention to, when, where, what you may want to consider jotting down for use later and how you'll use it. Chapter Three: One of my favorite chapters and one I will refer to pretty much for as long as I'm writing, this chapter reviews all the tools you have available to you as a writer. No, not the difference between a keyboard and notepad but the difference between similes, metaphors and analogies. The differences between parenthesis and dashes, colons and semicolons, cadence and repetition. When and how you'll want to consider using back stories, flashbacks and future stories. Personification, symbolism, allusion and even onomatopoeia! This chapter covers it all. A great deal of it you already know but may not have known the name for it (for me that was 'cadence', new what it was, not what it was called). For others it's just nice to have a once and for all definition and rubric for which is which. Chapter Four: My second favorite chapter, Showing Vs Telling. If ever you have had an issue with this law of writing, understanding the difference, knowing when to use one or the other - yes, you will want to use both or anything in between, this is the chapter for you. With plenty of examples of not just how and when to use 'show' but how and when using 'tell' can be appropriate, this chapter was one of the chapters that made this purchase worth it. Chapter Five: The other chapter that made it all worth while and my third favorite (how nice, to have them all in one little clump like that!) this chapter covers Sensory Description. That means using all five of the senses to set up a scene, mood, environment, whatever! and not just sight, which is what we tend to fall back on because it's the easiest. It's easy to say this table is old and worn, the edges faded and chipped. It is much more difficult to describe that same table or even the room the table is in by utilizing the other senses. This chapter will help clear up some of the confusion and point you in the right direction. Chapter Six: Another chapter that's going to get a permanent bookmark in it, this chapter is entirely devoted to describing your characters. Not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, what their needs and wants are. How you can use other characters, setting, and the knowledge you have about the character to give readers information without putting together a list. (Rozelle also makes specific mention to the chapter prior, sensory description, and how you can use that to your advantage here. This referencing to other chapters or pages is done often and as a friendly, unassuming 'reminder'.) Chapter Seven: Here we get a look at 'Time and Place' and how to use both to fully develop your world. Macrocosm and microcosms are both discussed as well as remembering things like weather and geography and how both will not only establish your setting but will undoubtedly affect your character in one way or another. Chapter Eight: This is the chapter that looks at description and setting in the various genres, how they differ and how you can use them to help construct a better story. Historical Fiction gets the most attention here while Science Fiction & Fantasy barely composes the length of a tweet. Chapter Nine: Using your setting and description to help move your story along. How you can use it to establish mood and tone by your characters actions but also how you can use description and setting to help illuminate some of the conflicts in your novel. The example used for this one is an excerpt from Edith Wharton's Ethan Frome . And while I had hoped to never read a line from that book again after high school, I can't deny that the excerpt chosen illustrates the point at hand exceedingly well. Chapter Ten: Points you will want to consider with your title, first sentence, first paragraph and first page. Also, how to use tidbits from reality without simply copying and pasting. Chapter Eleven: How to recognize when you're using too much or too little and how to deal with 'clutter'. Issues discussed are: repetition, didacticism (that's a sub-title but I'm not sure it's actually a word lol. Didactic, yes. Didacticism, not so sure!), and useless information, among others. Chapter Twelve: Finally, putting it all together. Finding a time that's set aside just for you to write, using little reminders and notes on your settings, as well as a few notes on the revision process. I hope being able to see exactly what each chapter tackles will help you make an educated decision on whether or not this book is for you. One of the aspects that sold me, was that it isn't just a manual on how to describe a gorgeous sunset or a dusty, old library, it discusses (and in some cases itemizes) all of the tools, devices, do's and don'ts you will need to use, remember and pull out of your bag of tricks in order to craft a successful novel. And not successful in a monetary or publicity sense, successful in that it does what it is meant to do, tell a story. -Jace

  3. 5 out of 5

    Allan Fisher

    After having read five or six books recently this one stands head and shoulders above the rest. Highly instructive and informative. A real gem!!!!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Natasha Oliver

    After starting the journey of becoming a published author years ago, I've come across many "self-help" books on how to write a novel, and my experience is that 90% of them are a load of rubbish. This one fortunately for you and me, is not. If you're serious about becoming a writer and you've already begun the journey, then this is one for the collection. I'm not positive that you will come back to it afterwards like Solutions for Writers by Sol Stein or your English Grammar reference book, but it After starting the journey of becoming a published author years ago, I've come across many "self-help" books on how to write a novel, and my experience is that 90% of them are a load of rubbish. This one fortunately for you and me, is not. If you're serious about becoming a writer and you've already begun the journey, then this is one for the collection. I'm not positive that you will come back to it afterwards like Solutions for Writers by Sol Stein or your English Grammar reference book, but it will help you write/tell your story better. Specifically it gives you examples of how to: 1. Show vs Tell (a common problem with most new authors) 2. Description (description for literature vs description for popular fiction) 3. Characters 4. Timing 5. Grammar (a very brief section that you'll probably already know if you've been writing for some time now) There is other useful info as well, but these are just a few. Lastly, unlike most authors in this genre, he does not solely reference his own books. He uses a wide range of writers encompassing literature as well as popular modern fiction.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    If there’s one thing I learned from this book, it’s the art of Wordsmithing; the careful selection of words and phrases to enhance the readers’ experience. This technique can greatly improve the craft of a writer. I will re-reference this book from time to time. It has many useful examples and is perhaps a great source for getting ideas for my own work. I highly recommend this book for authors to be!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I actually had a really enjoyable time reading this book in the Write Great Fiction series. It wasn't by James Bell the way the others have been. It was a fresh voice and personally I enjoyed Rozelle's style more than Bell's. He was clear and his humor added to the teaching. As to the content itself, it is very clear and user friendly (i.e. the succinct chapter reviews added in the back of the book for future reference). Overall I was not disappointed. I actually had a really enjoyable time reading this book in the Write Great Fiction series. It wasn't by James Bell the way the others have been. It was a fresh voice and personally I enjoyed Rozelle's style more than Bell's. He was clear and his humor added to the teaching. As to the content itself, it is very clear and user friendly (i.e. the succinct chapter reviews added in the back of the book for future reference). Overall I was not disappointed.

  7. 5 out of 5

    LATOYA JOVENA

    I learned a lot but a book has to hold your attention in order to inform you. It was easy to get distracted from this one.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brooke Johnson

    This book was a slog to get through, and apparently I've already read it once before, but it was so forgettable, I didn't remember ever reading it. I feel like I got a bit more out of it this time than my previous read of it four years ago, but it was still boring as heck to read. My mind kept wandering, and I'd have to reread paragraphs to make sure I didn't skim over something. There were some good nuggets buried in here, things that I sort of "knew" but never actually realized in a craft sens This book was a slog to get through, and apparently I've already read it once before, but it was so forgettable, I didn't remember ever reading it. I feel like I got a bit more out of it this time than my previous read of it four years ago, but it was still boring as heck to read. My mind kept wandering, and I'd have to reread paragraphs to make sure I didn't skim over something. There were some good nuggets buried in here, things that I sort of "knew" but never actually realized in a craft sense, things that old trunked novels were missing that I couldn't figure out at the time, and things that I could use in my current WIP. For what few things I highlighted, it was worth the reread, but the overall book was a chore to finish.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anna Erishkigal

    I have both this version and also the older Elements of Fiction writing book on 'Setting' by Bickham. Both were excellent, but I found the older version to be slightly more helpful in fleshing out the setting-as-a-character in my epic fantasy work. This is the newer of the two and it relies more on internet-research. When it comes to setting, there is nothing like being there and speaking to people who have been there to get a 'feel' for a place, I have discovered. But once again, both books wer I have both this version and also the older Elements of Fiction writing book on 'Setting' by Bickham. Both were excellent, but I found the older version to be slightly more helpful in fleshing out the setting-as-a-character in my epic fantasy work. This is the newer of the two and it relies more on internet-research. When it comes to setting, there is nothing like being there and speaking to people who have been there to get a 'feel' for a place, I have discovered. But once again, both books were excellent. For me, I preferred the older version.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Patterson

    Good book. All of the titles in this series are worth buying if you want to get published.You have to learn the techniques of what makes a novelist succeed in the 21st century - or carry on writing tomes for yourself.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tizzy

    Description has been a bit of a weak spot for me. This has been pointed out by my editor and, at times, by the odd reader so I was aware I needed help. Being a bit of a fan of Readers’ Digest books, I grabbed this one while looking for my next book on writing (I try to always have a book on writing on my currently reading list.) I’m actually satisfied with this one, and found it better than some other RD offerings, if only because this one mostly delivered on what it set out to do without getting Description has been a bit of a weak spot for me. This has been pointed out by my editor and, at times, by the odd reader so I was aware I needed help. Being a bit of a fan of Readers’ Digest books, I grabbed this one while looking for my next book on writing (I try to always have a book on writing on my currently reading list.) I’m actually satisfied with this one, and found it better than some other RD offerings, if only because this one mostly delivered on what it set out to do without getting too boring except for the odd chapter and without depending on very specific literary/cinematic references to be understandable. I mean, this book does at times depend on references, but most of the time the text it’s referring to is reproduced right there so you can see most of what the author is referring to. Not that the book never misses the mark. The thing here is, this is a general guide on description and setting. The chapter where it attempts to help with description on specialized fiction might as well not be in the book, for it becomes so general and at times detached from the actual genres it might as well not be there. For me, it was very useful – but I was looking for ways to make my writing richer, and trying to learn how to more naturally insert description into my writing. If that’s what you need, and I’m sure I’m not the only author who could stand to learn a thing or two on that, go ahead with this. However, if your issue is not being sure on how to write a specific genre, skip this one. Whatever specialized information it has is too vague to be at all useful.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    I've read the character and plot creation books in this series, but I think I've resonated with this author the most. I've never read Ron Rozelle's books but its self evident that he should author this one. In this book he teaches how to balance showing and telling and used plenty of examples from diverse fiction to drive home his points. This book mostly taught me how to describe how something is relevant to a scene and a character, while acknowledging that what's in the bag is more important t I've read the character and plot creation books in this series, but I think I've resonated with this author the most. I've never read Ron Rozelle's books but its self evident that he should author this one. In this book he teaches how to balance showing and telling and used plenty of examples from diverse fiction to drive home his points. This book mostly taught me how to describe how something is relevant to a scene and a character, while acknowledging that what's in the bag is more important than its color. My favorite genres are science fiction and horror, so its obvious that he should reference Stephen King and the very over-recommended 'On Writing'. I love Steve, but he didn't need to write so many details about boobies in his works when they weren't relevant relevant. Recommendations like that made me skeptical of Rozelle's resume on authors. But when he discussed genre writers making their writing unique, he brought up passages from Foundation and A Canticle for Leibowitz. This book made me realize I've been reading the right sci-fi, while acknowledging that I should read Delillo and maybe even some westerns or romance. This is a good catch-all writers' book, and expanded my horizons past the title.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Todd Hogan

    Books that offer writing help are like Road Maps: Their value and usefulness depends upon where you are. Since I had questions about how to effectively create a sense of place, this book had some great ideas. But it goes further, giving hints on character descriptions and using all the tools in a writer's toolbox. More info than I needed. Ron Rozelle does a good job of presenting the information, with some telling examples, and a fine appendix that reprises what was said earlier in the book. He Books that offer writing help are like Road Maps: Their value and usefulness depends upon where you are. Since I had questions about how to effectively create a sense of place, this book had some great ideas. But it goes further, giving hints on character descriptions and using all the tools in a writer's toolbox. More info than I needed. Ron Rozelle does a good job of presenting the information, with some telling examples, and a fine appendix that reprises what was said earlier in the book. He wanted the reader to have no excuse for not understanding what he was communicating. He does a fine job. So, this is a fine book that covers many of the fundamentals, although there are other books that cover them more completely and with more enthusiasm.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Monica T. Rodriguez

    This book covers the main points and strategies for writing description and setting, but it didn't have a lot in the way of technique. He used a lot of examples, and sometimes would simply say, there. Read more like that. I also didn't find the exercises very useful. They were rather involved, and would have been more useful if I hadn't been in the midst of editing my work in progress. Another thing that made me frequently start skimming was that the author was wordy and long-winded. He took par This book covers the main points and strategies for writing description and setting, but it didn't have a lot in the way of technique. He used a lot of examples, and sometimes would simply say, there. Read more like that. I also didn't find the exercises very useful. They were rather involved, and would have been more useful if I hadn't been in the midst of editing my work in progress. Another thing that made me frequently start skimming was that the author was wordy and long-winded. He took paragraphs to get to the point at times, and often interjected with irrelevant asides. I think he was trying to establish a conversational tone, but it just seemed to get in the way. So, my final opinion is meh. You can find a better book to help you with your writing.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Yvonne

    Outstanding book on the writer's craft. Lots of helpful examples. This book is very instructive for both beginning and experienced writers. If you are already a writer, this book will give you lots of ideas that will make your manuscript even better. One thing I really liked was that when the author shared a particular tip, he quoted examples from noted writers that illustrate how they put that skill into practice in their own novels. Outstanding book on the writer's craft. Lots of helpful examples. This book is very instructive for both beginning and experienced writers. If you are already a writer, this book will give you lots of ideas that will make your manuscript even better. One thing I really liked was that when the author shared a particular tip, he quoted examples from noted writers that illustrate how they put that skill into practice in their own novels.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Erik Van Asch

    This Write Great Fiction series is awesome and probably my favorite set of writing books after reading hundreds of fiction writing books over the years.. Especially the Summary in the back of each book. But don't let that fool you into thinking you shouldn't read the full book and simply skip to the summary. This Write Great Fiction series is awesome and probably my favorite set of writing books after reading hundreds of fiction writing books over the years.. Especially the Summary in the back of each book. But don't let that fool you into thinking you shouldn't read the full book and simply skip to the summary.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Philip Dampier

    One of the better craft books I've read and like the others in the Write Great Fiction series has lots of helpful information. I particularly enjoyed all the references to wordsmithing. Being a wordsmith is the ambition of all writers I think. If you are into writing I recommend this book. One of the better craft books I've read and like the others in the Write Great Fiction series has lots of helpful information. I particularly enjoyed all the references to wordsmithing. Being a wordsmith is the ambition of all writers I think. If you are into writing I recommend this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    A.B. Neilly

    I think this is a great book for any writer who wants to improve his craft. It is focused on how to do better descriptions and set your story with many examples and lots of practice exercises to apply to your own manuscript. I know my novel is going to be better thanks to this book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Patricia Caviglia

    The more I can learn about writing the better. This book is easy to follow and understand. It will definitely improve anyone's writing. The more I can learn about writing the better. This book is easy to follow and understand. It will definitely improve anyone's writing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katrin Gertsen

    The book is great!

  21. 5 out of 5

    T Ramon

    Must read, if you want to know anything about the practice of description & setting writing. Easy and informative read. Great reference.

  22. 5 out of 5

    NePo

    Book has a lot of practical advice, however it's missing wow factor. Book has a lot of practical advice, however it's missing wow factor.

  23. 4 out of 5

    ZaBeth Marsh

    Good exercises to get you writing better descriptions and settings.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    If you're a beginner and need help description and setting this book will be helpful to you. An excellent guidance manual on how-to with examples. If you're a beginner and need help description and setting this book will be helpful to you. An excellent guidance manual on how-to with examples.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Woodruff

    Excellent book for learning about the art of writing.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Cline

    Good concrete examples on what to do and not to do while crafting your story. Very helpful.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Clifford

    Description & Settings in 195 pages.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rita Peterson

    These series of books set me off on the right trek in understanding how to write better. Easy to read. Easy to understand with concrete examples.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Hagen

    I read this for the writing course I am taking. I got so really good information to help me with my stories.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jan Bill

    Breaks down the elements of storytelling. Distinguishes the difference between writing and skillfully following a craft. Lays out the groundwork for devising a captivating story.

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