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The Feel of a World

I started reading Naomi Novik's Spinning Silver the other day. It's part of my strategy to read any book that makes both the Hugo and Nebula awards ballots. I'm only forty pages in but I can already recommend it to just about anyone.

As a newbie writer, I've noticed something about the world Novik has created. It isn't just coherent and richly imagined. It's emotionally recognizable. And that's something I hadn't thought about before.

One of the writing lessons that blew me away when I grasped it was that the setting of a scene needed to have an emotional identity, just like a character does. Your reader needs to have an emotional reaction to the setting itself. Maybe "needs to" overstates the case, but certainly your setting is a wonderful opportunity to play with the reader's emotions. As a newbie writer I'd been mostly concerned with creating settings that were plausible and coherent. Now I know that I can stop obsessing over accur…

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