Bakers Dozen: Creative Writing Workbook (Chapter 1, page 1 of 2)

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Chapter 1

This workbook is not the know all, end all of creative writing textbooks. It is designed to get the reader to think, but most of all to write. Feel free to work all the exercises or just a few. It briefly covers the basics of fiction writing and poetry writing. Enjoy the journey.

Setting: The backdrop of a work that includes these: place: world, country, city, building, room, and so on.

It can also be the natural world: for example, a graveyard, in a jungle, or on the banks of a river.

time: a historical time, such as the civil war or modern times; time of day, such as night, day, afternoon etc.; or the time of year, such as winter, spring, fall, and summer.

I. At times the setting is essential -- in other words, the story could not have taken place as it did in another setting.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn could not take place as it did in any other setting. The historical time was essential because Jim was a runaway slave. The place was important. The Mississippi had symbolic importance.

The book Dune by Frank Herbert had a setting that was essential. Dune was a desert planet and everything that happened in the book happened because Dune was a desert planet.

Write five examples of books, movies, songs, or television shows in which the setting is essential and explain why it is essential.

II. At times the setting is nonessential. In other words, the story could have happened pretty much the same way somewhere else.

The classic movie E.T. could have happened in just about any other suburban locality. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was mainly a mystery that could have taken place in almost any small town.

Write five examples of books, movies, songs or television shows in which the setting is non-essential. Briefly describe the setting in each.

III. Putting it together A. Here is a setting for a story.

Earth in present times. The season is winter. It takes place in a house in Colorado that is cut off from the rest of the world. A blizzard has come and practically buried the house. One man is trapped inside. In this example, the setting is essential.

B. Here is a nonessential setting Earth in present times. A little town called Twiddle is visited one fine summer day by friendly aliens. The action takes place in several places in the town but especially in a patch of woods on the edge of town and in the jail in the center of town.

C. Write your own setting by filling in the blanks below with the names of places called for. After you have answered the questions, write a brief description of your setting in a separate paragraph.

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