#RRBC Spotlight Tour – Peggy Hattendorf

Peggy Hattendorf

Don’t Underestimate the role of Setting

Captivate . . . engage . . . transport – setting does all that and more.

Create the mood – draw in the reader – jump start the whole story . . . all with setting.

The background and surroundings provide support and footing for structuring and building the story. Presenting vivid descriptions and details – engage the reader’s emotions and allow him to see what the characters see. It secures place and location for characters, drama, conflict and suspense; while grounding the reader with a sense of identification. When properly formulated, setting unleashes the dramatic aspects of the narrative or dialogue.

Son of My FatherMany books announce the environment or location at the commencement of the story – or in the first few sentences. “The gleaming aircraft wing glistened in the late morning sunshine as she gazed out the window.” This is a passage taken from my book, Son of My Father – A Family Dynasty. A concrete reference establishes the setting with the first sentence. Several lines of dialogue from the corporate management team onboard follow, revealing the private airplane is heading back to New York. Then the reader learns, “As the plane lifted off from Los Angeles heading for the clouds, the celebration began.” Setting has oriented the reader and provided a frame of reference.

Setting paints a picture. “Christiana owned an Italianate villa named Bellagio, after one of her favorite spots in Italy. The twenty-five thousand square-foot gated estate was defined by fine architectural accents and European understatement, with free-flowing large expanses of windows and terraces, majestic ceilings and marble floors, overlooking the splendors of the waterways complete with two boat docks.”

Setting presents imagery. “Awaiting Christiana’s arrival, Jack made a last minute visual inspection as he strode around his apartment. Satisfied that all was in order, he touched the Cristal Champagne chilling in the ice bucket on the cocktail table next to the Baccarat crystal flutes. Playing softly in the background was Shubert’s Unfinished Symphony and the twinkling lights of Manhattan were starting to accent the skyline.”

The American Author, Jacob M. Appel, notes setting should have three specific goals:  To orient – give the reader a frame of reference. To awe – provide knowledge and descriptive details of the location, along with interesting tidbits that come from familiarity. To trap – pull the reader into the setting and the first drama.    

Setting must be credible developed from current experience or knowledge of place, along with thorough research and validating information. Setting must be cohesive with the plot and characters. Setting must be consistent with the timeframe of the story. Setting remains a key and vital component to storytelling.

I welcome your comments or questions and am reachable by email.

Author – Son of My Father – A Family Dynasty & Travel Editor – hers Magazine

About Peggy Hattendorf
Peggy Hattendorf

Peggy’s earlier careers helped cultivate and enrich her interest in writing. In her executive positions in the non-profit field, she had the opportunity to compose technical and operational handbooks for staff and volunteers for a number of name recognized organizations. Her management experience guided her to a multi-decade second career in the travel industry highlighted with the co-founding of a nationwide marketing consortium and independent contractor network. With over 5000 members, generating $180 million in annual sales, she wrote daily travel updates and news briefs distributed electronically to the membership. Today, she maintains an ambitious travel schedule and is the Travel Editor for hers Magazine where she writes travel feature articles and Hotel Review blog posts. In addition, she still serves on a number on non-profit boards. Her background with upscale and luxury travel products served as cornerstones in the character development and storyline of her first novel – “Son of My Father – A Family Dynasty.” She is currently working on her second book.

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About Son of My Father

Son of My FatherIt was always “Father” never “Dad.” The love and respect was manifest so was the distance – the distance not as evident.

Christiana Lynn Barrington’s life is a carefully constructed world built, presented and controlled by her billionaire father, Jonathan Robert Barrington.

She never knew anything else.

As the only child of Jonathan and Elizabeth Matthews Barrington, she’s the heir apparent to the behemoth Barrington Holdings International.

Frequently, she wondered if her father had wished to have had a son instead of a daughter but never posed the question. Maybe she was afraid of the answer. Even so, she reveres him and has sacrificed her personal happiness, including her marriage, for Barrington Holdings and for him.

But a threat to her hard-earned succession waits in the shadows ready to take everything she’s worked for away from her.

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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  1. Setting is so key. I like the three objectives To Orient, To Awe and To Trap. Excellent. Thanks Donna for hosting.

  2. Another fantastic post, Peggy. Congratulations on this amazing honor!

    Donna, thank you for hosting and lending your support. You are greatly appreciated.

  3. Peggy, this is another informative and interesting post. Congratulations on your week in the Spotlight! I hope you have a great time! :)

    Donna, thanks so much for hosting Peggy today :)

  4. If you can make your readers feel as though they’re right there in the scene with the characters then you’re doing a good job! If you can make it a sensate experience as well (I like to include scents like woo0dsmoke, or textures like slubby cottons) then you’re evoking even deeper reactions to make it all come alive :-)
    Thanks for having us over, Donna :-)

  5. Describing the setting is one of my favorite parts of writing. When all else fails to bring an image to mind, I’ll try to find a picture that shows what I want to say. Your examples above are great. Not only are they descriptive, but they’re not a “listing” of what the character sees. So often I read books that tell us what’s in the character’s sight, instead of having the character interact with items. Thank you for the great to orient, to awe, and to trap.

  6. Peggy this is an interesting topic. The setting does help to fill in the blanks. I’ve seen it in readings and I’ve seen it play out on the screen. It’s quite interesting. Thank you for sharing your ideas with us. Have a successful Spotlight Tour!

  7. Great tips Peggy. Describing the setting vividly puts the reader right there in the story. I have come across great reads that did that to me. Thank you Donna for hosting her.

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