About five years ago, I got the chance to go to New York to see my first Broadway show. I bought tickets to see 42nd Street. As the orchestra tuned, I fidgeted in my seat. The house lights went down. The red curtain slowly rose to the sound of 40 pairs of tap-dancing feet. I thought my heart would leap out of my chest. For the next two hours, my eyes were riveted on the stage.
This Broadway musical, based on Bradford Ropes’ novel, tells the story of mounting a successful stage extravaganza at the height of the Great Depression. What better place to set a story about a stage production than on a stage? In essence, the stage became a character in the cast, a character that shaped the whole story.
In Kate Quinn’s new book, Empress of the Seven Hills, she has a rough and tumble hero, Vix. I love how she uses the setting of the ancient Roman world as a character. First, she takes her country boy Vix to the city. The city kicks Vix around like a character with an ax to grind. But Kate doesn’t stop there with Vix’s character development. She changes settings and takes Vix to the far reaches of the Empire, the rough and unsettled parts of the world, and lets the hardships rough him up even more. Now, the rustic setting is a character as well.
How can you use setting as a character in your WIP?