1 Saturday, October 29 , 10am-4pm
$130 members/$145 others  

Testimonials for Jess

 Class is Closed!

Setting is not simple backdrop, like a green screen on which a film is shot. Setting in fiction plays an important role in theme, plot, genre, and even characterization. Instructor Jess Wells says, “It’s no accident that your intrepid heroes have to ride through a narrow mountain pass: it’s the way the author forces friend and foe into a meeting. It’s helpful that your main character is the village doctor, hosting family after family during their crisis in a little room in the front of the house. Even the relentless dark and biting wind of a distant planet illustrates both the physical challenges facing the colony of scientists but also their brooding cruelty to one another.”

Whether you write sci-fi, historicals, erotica, or modern fiction, your setting can make or break your story. In this one-day class, we’ll ask the following:

  • What are the keys to a well-drawn fictional world?
  • What elements assist in creating an effective setting and better yet, an efficient setting that works hard for you in your story?
  • How can a setting be drawn to challenge the protagonist in his/her quest?
  • How can a setting allow the author to control movement of the characters and introduce diversity of events and characters?

We may look at the opening pages and/or the maps of well-known books from different genres, including: The Lathe of Heaven, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Perfume: Story of a Murderer, and The Hobbit. We may also take a free-form map and create a world of our own to see what a setting requires.

And of course, we’ll tip our hats to the amazing power of a beautifully written setting that transports us, transfixes us, lets us smell the flowers of a foreign land. It’s thrilling to realize, “oh that’s why it had to be Mordor!”

Jess Wells is the author of thirteen volumes of work, including the novel A Slender Tether on the early years of Christine de Pizan, a pioneering thinker of the 14th century French court; and the novel The Mandrake Broom, dramatizing the fight to save medical knowledge during the witch-burning times in Europe (1465-1540). Wells is the winner of a San Francisco Art Commission Grant for Literature and a four-time finalist for the national Lambda Literary Award. Her work is included in dozens of anthologies and literary journals.

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