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Saturday, April 21 • 10:00am - 11:15am
Setting Emotion: Using Place to Establish Emotion

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Every story takes place somewhere, but how do we make sure our story’s setting is acting as more than backdrop? This workshop will focus on how to use place as a way to establish emotion and to reveal character in both fiction and nonfiction. In some ways, we’ll explore that old writing commandment “Show, don’t tell,” but we’ll also look at how the ubiquity of that commandment obscures how difficult it is to understand and master. A key question of the workshop will be: What is the difference between “place” and “setting” and “landscape”? According to the author Robert Olen Butler, “We look at the landscape and what we see out there is our deepest emotional inner selves. This is at the heart of a work of art.” Through a series of generative writing exercises and prompts, and using published and unpublished works as our guide, this workshop will aim to reach those deeper selves and translate them through the description of place. We’ll think about how we might use place in our writing to reveal or imply a character’s moods or emotions, and how the selective description of place can suggest or reveal an untold event, or something happening outside of the scene.

“In the real world, we can only visit place,” the poet and novelist Luis Urrea wrote, “but in the alchemy of writing, we become place, and place becomes us.” He also advised anyone wanting to utilize place in their work to stop trying to use it, and instead start inhabiting it. The final part of this presentation will focus on Urrea’s idea of “inhabiting” place and will explore how this inhabiting not only relates to our characters, but also to us as community members. While attendees are free ask questions at any point, there will be time at the end dedicated specifically to Q&A.

Speakers
avatar for Eliot Triechel

Eliot Triechel

Eliot Treichel is the author of the young adult novel A Series of Small Maneuvers, which received the Oregon Book Award’s Readers Choice Award and the Mountain & Plains Independent Booksellers Association’s Reading the West Award. His first book, the story collection Close Is... Read More →


Attendees (19)