A Word About Settings

Setting is an integral part of your story. Without setting the characters and the action are taking place in a vacuum. Life doesn’t take place in a vacuum. We have buildings, gardens, parks, beaches and other places where action takes place. Otherwise we just have talking heads with a little description. Later this year, I will be posting a story that I wrote the dialog for first. It wasn’t long and it wasn’t good. So I added descriptors, so that the reader would get a sense of who was talking. It wasn’t enough. I needed to add some touches of setting. So that’s what I did. I added a setting. I knew where the conversation was taking place, but I hadn’t conveyed it. It was an experiment and I learned from it. I learned that we need a setting to make the story better. To not have a setting or even a few word sketches of a setting, the story will fail, much like the first draft of my story.

Take a few minutes of time to visualize the place where your action takes place. What’s there? What’s going on around the characters? Is there anything going on? Are there other people in the area? That’s a good observation. If you want to see what a restaurant is like, go to one and listen. Just listen to the sounds going on around you. What smells do you smell? Obviously food, but are there other scents? Is someone wearing too much cologne? Make notes of what you hear and smell. What about touch? What do you feel? Are you warm, cold? Note that down as well. What do you see? Wait staff carrying a ridiculous number of plates on one arm? Someone else serving coffee? People paying for their meals? What do they look like? Note down your impressions. You don’t have to be detailed. Just writing your impressions will be good. You can do this in other places as well. Do it the next time you are sitting in a waiting room for the doctor or dentist. Go yo a library and do the same. Another idea is to record the same things while driving. My advice here is to verbally record your impressions into your phone while you drive. It will be safer and you can transcribe it later.

Wherever you are, take a few minutes and note down some sights, sounds, tactile sensations, and smells. In the case of restaurants and coffee shops, include the sense of taste. That’s what will make your writing more real to your readers. It will make your story better. You want to give your readers a sense of where the action is taking place. Make the leaves rustle when the action is out of doors. Let your characters feel the wind, rain, or whatever weather is going on. These details don’t have to be more than a phrase here or sentence there. They will make the action better. So pay attention to what’s going on around you and include some of those details in your writing. You’ll be glad you did.


I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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Posted in Writing Techniques

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© Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den, 2010-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lisa Hendrickson and Pebblepup's Writing Den with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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