Unsettling Chapters: Fears Unnamed

Ensuing Chapters

Setting can be a literary minefield. When used correctly, it can create affecting works of art (think The Shining, The House of the Seven Gables or J.G. Ballard’s Concrete Island). But sometimes a writer can become so fixated on setting that they produce a literary still life that is beautiful to look at, but what about the characters? If two people are having a conversation on a bridge, do we really need a three-page description of the bridge?

Probably not, but when setting works to complement the narrative, it strengthens the reader’s bond to a location. My favorite book is Stephen King’s The Stand, mostly because of the first-rate character development: Larry’s sadness, Stu and Franny’s determination, the loneliness of Harold and Nadine. But I can still see those bodies crucified to telephone poles along the Nevada highway. When I moved to Boulder, Colorado, I walked along…

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