Whose Setting is it?

Whose Setting is it?

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It’s not hard to be aware of setting on a beautiful spring day on the coast. Daffodils are splashing bright yellow under the trees and bushes; blue violets hide behind the white snowdrops; the early cherry trees are blooming.  How does the setting contribute to the story? Is my protagonist walking to work? Is she considering running away from her family? Or is she just observing the lovely day? I can get carried away describing the setting and forget that it has to contribute to the story. The thunderstorm  as the villain is approaches is easy to relate to the story (and clichéd), but violets?  Perhaps my character thinks of them because she has time to think of them. It is a relaxed, optimistic time in her life. Then she would have to be character who notices flowers. If I want a different character, an engineer,  to show she is relaxed, perhaps she would notice the newly sandblasted buildings near her office, or the filled potholes the town had finally gotten around to repairing now that the frost is out of the ground. The setting depends on who sees it and different characters notice different details in a setting.

What the readers see is what the character notices and the character notices what is important to him or her. So, the setting then is an aspect of character. I had a teenaged character who played the French horn in her high school band. She heard music everywhere. Sounds I might ignore, she picked up on and even defined them as “F#”or low “C.” Another character painted and she saw the setting in terms of composition and colour. Part of imagining yourself as the character who views the setting, is to see the setting in their terms–and then describe it as they would.  That is also one of the joys of writing.