Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Book Spotlight: Creating Stories by Hank Quense

My recently published Creating Stories has everything I’ve leaned about writing stories over the last twenty years.  Below is an extract on setting.


Setting can do much more than describe the backdrop for the story.  It should convey and define the time period and customs of the characters.  It can set up the reader's expectations about the type of story he is about to read.  It can start the reader's image-building process.
Consider your characters acting out the story on a stage.  Behind the characters, instead of the scenery typical with plays, there is nothing but white panels.  The people who paid money to see the play would be dismayed by the lack of scenery, so too your readers will not like it if your story doesn't have the appropriate setting to back up the characters.
As with the plot and other story development elements, the setting must dovetail with the overall story design.  As an example, a Medieval setting won't work if the bad guy uses an automatic pistol (unless the bad guy is also a time traveler).  Thus the setting places limits on what the author can do and can't do, so it's best if the author has the setting developed before the work gets too far along.
The setting used in your story has to be accurate.  Don't try to set a story in Manhattan's Central Park if you haven't been there.  Likewise, the French Quarter in New Orleans is unique and shouldn't be used by anyone who hasn't walked the narrow streets.
Here is an example of what can happen.  I've lived and worked all my life around New York City.  The Hudson River is over a mile wide here and the East River is nearly a half-mile wide.  If you haven't been to Dublin, you may assume the Liffey River, which runs through that city, would be of similar size.  It isn't.  The Liffey is rather small compared to the rivers around Manhattan.  Making the Liffey a wide river will destroy your credibility with those readers who have seen the Liffey. 
On the other hand, if you develop an imaginary location, you can make the city's river as wide as you want.  Similarly, if you use a backdrop of a historical period in the distant past, none of your readers will have been there, but you'll still have to do research to get the setting accurate. You can't use St. Paul's Cathedral with its great dome in London right after William the Conquerer became king of England.  St Paul's wasn't built yet.
The setting of the story should be conveyed early to the reader, the earlier the better.  Ideally, the opening paragraph in a short story or the first few pages in a longer work should give an indication of the type of story the reader is about to encounter.  Is it a mystery set in Victorian London?  Is it a story of survival set in war-torn Iraq?  Are those vicious aliens on their way to Earth?  The reader expects and has a right to know this stuff as early as possible.  Don't disappoint the reader.  She may put the book down and never open it again.
An effect of establishing the setting is the placing of limitations on the author and the characters.  For the author, a space ship means he shouldn't have the characters using swords and landline phones since these artifacts are from bygone eras.
Your characters are also limited.  A character in the Old West can't have knowledge of computers or smart phones, unless he's a time-traveler.
If you write a story that uses weapons from a different era or knowledge not available at that time, you’d better have a good reason why it makes sense.  You don't have to convince yourself, you have to convince the reader.
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Praise for Creating Stories by Hank Quense

Mary Blowers: author and blogger
Hank Quense has penned a masterpiece in Creating Stories.
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Joylene Butler: Author of Matowak Women Who Cries:
This book is a true treasure and needs to be in the library of every writer worldwide.
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Mark Cain, best-selling satirist, author of the CIRCLES IN HELL series
Developing a method for writing a successful story -- a system that can be understood and utilized by another writer -- is an intimidating challenge, yet Hank Quense has managed it. There are other ways to approach story writing, but none likely are better or more understandable than Quense's methodology. Creating Stories is highly recommended as a how-to guide for the novice writer and as a reminder of best practices for the experienced author.
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Mark Henderson: British author of Cruel and Unusual Punnishments
Hank doesn't purport to tell reader how to produce creative ideas, but offers guidance on how to turn those ideas into readable fiction.
I recommend Creating Stories unreservedly to fiction writers everywhere.
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Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite: 5 stars
For the wannabe writer who doesn't know where to start, this is the book for you.
A good story must be told with care and this requires consideration and planning on the part of the author. The whole point of writing a story is to capture the attention of readers. Hank helps novice and experienced writers perfect their writing and tell a good story.

Hank Quense writes humorous and satiric scifi and fantasy stories. He also writes about fiction writing and self-publishing. He has published 18 books and 50 short stories along with a few dozen articles. He often lectures on fiction writing and publishing and has a series of guides covering the basics on each subject. He is currently working on a series of two humorous novels that take place in the Camelot era.

He and his wife, Pat, usually vacation in another galaxy or parallel universe. They also time travel occasionally when Hank is searching for new story ideas.

Social media links:

Hank's blog: http://hanquense.com/wp
Strange Worlds website: http://strangeworldspublishing.com/wp
Follow him on twitter: http://twitter.com/hanque99
Facebook fan pages: https://www.facebook.com/StrangeWorldsOnline

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