“On Setting and Craft” Essay by Laurie Ann Doyle in The Millions
The professor slides the chalk in his long fingers, then taps it on the desk, raising a faint cloud of yellow dust. “Setting,” he says, “isn’t really one of the important craft elements. Not even close to character and plot. Don’t worry about figuring out your setting until you’ve at least got one main character nailed down.”
I nod. The man’s hair is gelled to a gleam and his black, ripped-at-the-collar t-shirt is simultaneously chic and casual. He’s got an acclaimed novel under his belt and is finishing up another. I have a secret crush on him, as do most of the women in the room, I later discover. His teeth are just so white.
I mentally cross setting off my list. The word itself has an unimportant feel, reminding me of the long rolls of butcher block paper that we’d tempera-paint with branchy trees and turquoise skies that would crack when they served as a backdrop for the school play. The real action happens elsewhere.
Read the entire essay here.