Friday, July 16, 2010

The Bar

The Bar, The Desert and the Range--that's the blog title I wanted, but it seemed a bit long.

I think most novels limit themselves to a few main settings. This is where the bulk of the action takes place and where the reader is comfortable watching your characters develop.

In THE COST OF LOVE, E.T.'s Bar is where Dean and Lucy work undercover. It is also where the community gathers to shoot the bull (not figuratively-that would be messy). This is where Lucy first meets the larger cast of characters, and where Dean was embedded before the novel began. It's where the main attack against the town is staged and where the people of the town finally must decide if they're going to pull together or not. It's also where the "mole" is hidden. The bar is a main setting in the novel, and it's important my reader feel comfortable and intrigued by it from the first time they step inside.

The desert around Roswell, New Mexico represents the larger world and to some extent what is at risk should Lucy and Dean fail. It's wild, it's beautiful, and it's the setting for the more out-of-control scenes. The reader isn't sure what's going to happen when my characters are set loose in the desert. There are love scenes, death scenes, fight scenes, even party scenes--all within the setting of the great southwest desert.

White Sands Missile Range is the largest military installation in the world at almost 3,200 square miles. It's where my story opens and where it closes. I have such an abiding respect for our military men and women, and I wanted to emphasize that by showing the importance of this facility. In my novel, the base has been compromised, which sets up the conflict, creates the opening murder, and leads to the closing conflict.

There are plenty of other settings in this novel--exploding airports, loud dancehalls, intimate bedrooms, lonesome highways . .. . but the bar, the desert and the range are the three places where I've set Dean's boot down and claimed the reader's attention. Every novel has anchor points. Those were mine.



Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Drue,

Setting is so important in novels. As you observe, each has its own. If a setting is vivid enough, it becomes almost another contributing character in the plot. I'm thinking of W. Somerset Maugham's RAIN as an example. It sounds like THE COST OF LOVE definitely has vivid settings.

Anonymous said...

I like that point, Jacqueline. If your plot becomes aline, it is somewhat like a character. Nice!

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of opening and closing at the same place, Drue. It's kind of that full circle thing that not only sets the anchor in a physical sense, but also sets the pattern of growth for the protagonist. Thanks for the thoughts!

Anonymous said...

And I'm a PANTSTER, so I definitely didn't plan that, but it's where my characters, or my subconscious led me . . . which could be another way of saying I run in circles in my mind. : ) Thanks for stopping by, Rebbie!

Terry Odell said...

Setting is definitely a major player. I love rich settings, but only when the author uses them to enhance the plot. Nothing bores me more than lavish descriptions for their own sake.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Terry. I know EXACTLY what you mean. We don't CARE about the setting if we don't CARE about the people or what is happening to them. Excellent point.