1. JTB21
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    JTB21 Member

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    Quick question - Setting/Location?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by JTB21, May 4, 2014.

    Hello all,
    writing with a quick question: my novel has multiple location changes and I'm wondering if it's kosher to include a brief location description at the beginning of each chapter? This is standard in stageplays and screenplays so that the reader knows exactly where/when they are and I'm just wondering if it's ever done in novels? I'm thinking along the lines of "New York City, August 1928" or similar. Thanks!

    John
     
  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I don't see any reason why not. It's not as if it interferes with the quality of the writing itself, and it certainly avoids confusion. In fact, I think many other books have already done this. Go for it.
     
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  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've seen plenty of SF novels that have the date and location in space (think John Ringo), and fiction with date, time and country/city/sea location/vessel listed right at the beginning (think Tom Clancy), especially when there's a fair number of POVs being used to tell the tale.
     
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  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yup... it's been done successfully by many authors... as long as you don't make it an info dump, it should work...
     
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  5. JTB21
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    JTB21 Member

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    That's my concern, I change date and time often and don't want to confuse the reader.
     
  6. JTB21
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    It is a SF novel, would you recommend putting location/date only at the beginning of a chapter or is it kosher to also use a subheading mid-chapter, etc?
     
  7. JTB21
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    JTB21 Member

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    Will be sure to keep them short and sweet
     
  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, anything that keeps the reader on track gets my vote. Anything that distracts the reader from the story doesn't.

    I guess it's all how you work it. If readers get used to your mid-chapter scene changes with headings, this will work fine. If it jerks them out of the story, then it won't.

    I wouldn't be inclined to use headings within a chapter, myself, but would rely on simple transitions to make the change clear. If I'm doing a major scene change or POV change, I usually change chapters as well. However, never say never! :)
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with just about everyone here. It's been done, it works, so go for it. Even if you do it a lot, it's better than confusing the reader by not doing it at all. :)
     
  10. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Speaking as a reader, I never read these lists of characters/locations/times and don't seem to have any problem enjoying the stories. If I get confused, well, it's just a novel.
     
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  11. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I find it very organizing, especially if it flips back and forth between time periods.
     
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  12. Komposten
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    Komposten Insanitary pile of rotten fruit Staff Supporter Contributor

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    As everyone else have already said, if it makes things more organised and less confusing, it's definitely worth ago.
    Atop of that it might have other positive effects as well. For example, if the reader is told that something will happen at a certain date seeing as this date comes closer each chapter/scene change can definitely help build the suspense and make the reader try to piece the different events at different places together for the final event/climax.
     
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  13. JTB21
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    Consistency is the key, definitely agree. It's not a huge issue early on but the way my novel is structured, the pace really picks up toward the end and so the location changes start to come fast and furious.
     
  14. JTB21
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    And that I think is the choice: going the more literary route and risk losing/confusing the reader or going for more clarity and risk distracting the reader. I agree that it's better to risk a momentary distraction than to confuse someone.
     
  15. JTB21
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    Which is exactly how my novel ends, there's a set date by which something must be done and in the last few chapters I compress the timeline to give a 'ticking clock' effect as D-day approaches, so I'm hoping that listing the dates and locations will help create suspense that builds toward the climax and resolution.
     
  16. JTB21
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    PS - long live the Insquirrelgency
     
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  17. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I want to like this 1000 times! :)
     
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