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.
Leave a Reply