nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘setting

reading in isolation

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For a writer, retired from the daily commute, living in isolation from others has not been very hard. I have kept in touch with my family by phone, with my writing groups by Messenger, and with other friends through Facebook. When I am not writing, I watch TV or read aloud to my husband and we occasionally go for short drives. I’ve also taken an on-line writing course on Monday and Thursday evenings. Sometimes I sew, sometimes I blog. Rarely I take on my cleaning duties. There is always lots to do.

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Reading has been a true solace in these times of isolation. I have a Kobo for bedtime reading and a Kindle for the living room. And there is always a stack of books by the reading chair. I love British detective series like those of Ann Granger, Anne Cleeves and Elly Griffiths. I also love Science Fiction, most recently Vicki Holt’s Hunted on Predator Planet.

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What’s a comfortable chair without a book?

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So what is it about reading that is so involving? Part of this is setting, being transported to the misty sea-bound Shetland Islands, or the tentacled and mucky landscape of a distant planet. Part is about characters, getting to know people who face heart-pounding danger, or who solve mysteries by fitting clue to clue. Part is about story, a mix of circumstance and fate with twists and turns and an ending you never see coming.

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I have been known to lose myself in a good book. Once I settled in my car at a local park to read and forgot to return to work!

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Other people are reading lots too. I have seen a bit of a spike in book sales on Amazon. It is one of the pleasures of being a writer, knowing that I can bring a bit of escapism and solace to my readers.

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If you want to lose yourself in a book series, try my Meniscus Series. It’s a bit different. The stories are written in narrative poetry in a style that is compact and accessible. There are maps, a glossary and an alien dictionary in each book. All my books are illustrated.

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The Meniscus Series is about humans trying to overcome a dystopian reality on an alien planet. The story unfolds over several books and the theme is building relationships, building community.

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All my best!

Stay in your bubble! Read on!

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 29, 2020 at 7:00 am

writing a novel – selecting a setting #2

with 5 comments

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So the poet has decided to write a novel…

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Title: unknown

Working Title: Saving the Landing Church

Setting: a writers’ retreat including an abandoned church

Characters: main character a writer

Plot:  unknown

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From the first thought I had about my novel, I knew I wanted to include a re-purposed church in my setting.  I thought it would be an ideal location to tell stories about writers in search of contemplative and quiet spaces to do their work.  As I thought about equipping a writers’ retreat, I realized more spaces would be needed, for eating and sleeping for example, and I thought about bringing two other buildings to the location, a house (the church manse) and a sleeping quarters (the church hall).  I mentally set them on the site of our (real) property by the lake and … taa-daa! … I had the setting for my book.

Selecting a setting like this meant thinking about how these buildings could have been brought to the site.  In our area we have lots of experience with moving buildings, including churches.  For example, there is the fascinating story of how churches were moved to a new site along the Saint John River to allow for the flooding by the Mactaquac Dam.   For a wonderful novel about the flooding and the displacement of the homes and families, Riel Nason’s book The Town That Drowned (Gooselane, 2011) is an engaging, humorous and award-winning read! http://www.rielnason.com/

To write my novel, my first step was to write a short story about moving the church to its new location at the imaginary writers’ retreat.  As I wrote, I realised the move was only a small part of the story.  I began to ask myself questions about how the community might react to the move, how the re-purposing of the church might change its character, and how the stress of acquiring and moving the church, and interacting with the community, might change my protagonist.

an imagined writers’ retreat

Designing the setting for the novel has been a lot of fun.  I have had to think about how the buildings might be arranged at the new location.  I’ve thought about what would have to be done to prepare the new site for receiving the buildings (digging a well, installing a septic system, pouring foundations, and creating access).

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Other aspects of setting I’ve had to consider include:

  • the community and landscape where the writers’ retreat would be situated,
  • how the property would be embellished to make it ideal for writers seeking variety, solitude and places to write (benches, paths, and so on),
  • design changes to the inside of the house, church and hall in order to make them ideal for a writers’ retreat.

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I’ll write more these aspects of setting in a later post.

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So, what do you think of my imagined writers’ retreat?  Do you have any suggestions for how to make writers flourish in the setting?

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Copyright  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

December 10, 2012 at 7:19 am

writing a novel – re-purposing a church

with 10 comments

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So the poet has decided to write a novel…

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Title: unknown

Working Title: Saving the Landing Church

Setting: a writers’ retreat and an abandoned church

Characters: main character – a writer who operates a writers’ retreat

Plot: moving a church? (in part)

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Since the main character in my novel is a writer, it makes some sense that she would like to earn her living as a writer.  However, she has not yet published her first book, so there are no book deals or royalty cheques.  She turns to an occupation pursued by many talented writers, the education of other writers.

In my book, I want to establish a situation that could eventually lead to other books.   So, I have given my protagonist the dream of establishing a writer’s retreat.  Her idea is to hold writing workshops at this retreat, perhaps every weekend once she establishes herself.    She will be able to teach writing techniques at the retreat,  or hire other writers to carry out workshops.  She wants to sponsor reading events for the community, to encourage interest in local writers.  Now, all she needs is a place to carry out her plan.  She does a little research, selects a community where the artistic sentiment has established itself, and purchases a piece of land nearby.

detail of a larger drawing Jane Tims November 29, 2012

And then she sees the Landing Church, about to be abandoned by its congregation.  She falls in love with the church.  She re-imagines it as a perfect place to hold her writing retreat.  A serene, tranquil place for writers to think and write.  A place with good acoustics for readings.  A place 10 kilometers away.

Now, how is she going to get that lovely little church to her own property???

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Copyright  Jane Tims  2012

Written by jane tims

November 30, 2012 at 7:48 am

writing a novel – selecting a setting #1

with 13 comments

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So the poet has decided to write a novel.

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Title: unknown

Working Title: unknown

Setting: evolving

Characters: unknown

Plot: unknown

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The setting was my first consideration as I started to think about this project.  After all, I am very interested in ideas about ‘place’   …   my blog is about occupying ‘place’ and the concept of the ‘niche’, the perfect space for living.

The books I love to read and re-read have a strong sense of place.  Consider the ‘Martha’s Vineyard Mystery’ series of books by Philip R. Craig.  One of the enjoyable aspects of this series of books is the setting on Martha’s Vineyard.  Book by book, the reader grows to know the various places where the action occurs.  The reader can also follow along on a map.  The island is a perfect place for a story to unfold since there is lots of diversity in the landscape and everyone loves the ocean!

Another series of books I love are the ‘Fran Varady Crime Novels’ by Ann Granger (Headline Book Publishing, London).  The setting for these books is London.  The series unfolds as Fran evolves from being a squatter in a condemmed house, to a respectable tenant in a flat with a small garden.  Place is a strong component of the books and the reader encounters various areas again and again, some dangerous, some spooky, and some as safe as home.

As I try to think of a setting for my book, I am remembering the old saw, ‘write what you know’.  So, there is no question, the setting for my book will be rural New Brunswick.

I want to create a fictional setting within the landscape I know so well.  I also want a setting with some diversity.  I want my readers to enjoy encountering the characters in their spaces in this novel, and perhaps in other books.  I want to include elements of place which can both inspire and invoke memory.

One of the places I want to include in my setting is an old church.  I have written before in my blog about the plight of abandoned churches (see the post ‘sacred spaces’ for September 14, 2011, under https://nichepoetryandprose.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/sacred-spaces/).

Some of these abandoned churches fall into disrepair and gradually vanish from the landscape…

Some are maintained as historic sites or as useful buildings on private property…

Some are refurbished into homes…

or even businesses…

Don’t you agree, an abandoned church would be an ideal element of the setting for my book?

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Copyright  Jane Tims  2012

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