Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Cabin Fever in Ancient Egypt
Imagine Twilight set entirely in Forks High School.
Think of Old Man & the Sea without leaving the boat. (Makes me want to slit my wrists.)
What would Gone With the Wind have been if it was completely set at Tara?
Envision Memoirs of a Geisha only set in the okiya (geisha house).
Yawn, right? Setting is important. In my writing world, there's the primary setting and then there's secondary settings. (There's also homemade tiramisu for everyone in my world.) My primary setting is ancient Egypt, but my secondary setting changes based on the scene. Maybe it's the womens' quarters (AKA the harem), a banquet hall, Hatshepsut's temple at Deir el Bahri, a boat on the Nile, or the royal menagerie.
The point is, the characters need to move. The setting changes the mood and often tweaks the way events play out. If I kill a character in his chambers at night versus in the menagerie in broad daylight, that's a bit different, eh? (Yes, sometimes Alaskans sound like Canadians.)
Why do I bring this up? Because in Draft #1 of Book #2, I am very aware of the fact that everything so far has happened in the palace. I'm boring myself which really doesn't bode well for other people reading the novel. This happened when I wrote Hatshepsut so I made our darling female Pharaoh take a trip up the Nile. It was fun for both of us (you know I love to travel). Now my second protagonist is going to have to get out of the palace. I was thinking of having her take a chariot ride, but the darn things weren't invented yet so I'll have to come up with something else. Maybe the court hightails it to an oasis or something. I don't know if ancient Egyptians got cabin fever, but I do.
What about you? Do you kick your characters out of their setting comfort zone? Do you find yourself using one setting way too much? Does setting matter all that much to you?
Photo from My Eye on Egypt