Sunday, June 20, 2010

Scene Setting... So Simple...

Yet so hard.

Even though I love writing with every breath I take, setting a scene or the 'travelogue' portion of the novel is probably my least favorite.

I want to get to the action, damn it! LOL :-)

But scene setting is essential to any great story. We, as the reader, needs to be oriented to the environment.

Scene setting is also a place to allow your writing to shine. This is a place where you generally have enough room to turn some phrases and get away with a few more descriptors.

However, beware. Too much of a good thing is still too much. Narrative drive must always be maintained.

Even while standing perfectly still on a snowy field under a lone tree, your story must be moving forward.

But how to keep the momentum going forward when you want to pause and sit a while under the tree.

Luckily you can do both. The trick is to allow us insight into the character setting the scene (looking around, smelling, feeling, tasting their surroundings).

Each character in your story would look at that winter scape completely differently. (If that isn't the case, then you have bigger problems then scene setting).

One might look at the stark scene and consider it harsh and barren. Another might find the meeting of the white of the snow and the blue of the sky on the horizon as beautiful and yet another might notice the tiny droplets of dew falling from the branches, creating tiny crystalline pools in the snow.

Each are describing the same basic physical landscape but HOW each is describing the scene gives us incredible insight into not only their character by their word choice (intelligence, education level, etc), but also their current state of mind.

Perhaps at the beginning of Act 2 our Hero hates the snowy field. But by the end of Act 2 he would die to defend it.

Test your scene setting skills.

Read a section of scene setting a loud.

Do you have WAY too many descriptors? Did you not give us vital information (like the tree has mistletoe in its bare branches that is later important)? Can you tell EXACTLY to character and even the Act in which that scene was described?

If not... you know the drill. #Rewrite!

Also, I would love some feedback.

Could you head over to

You can read the first 25% of my new novel Plain Jane for free there. Take a peek then leave a comment here and let me know if I practiced what I preached about scene setting!

Now if you have to happen to fall in love with Plain Jane and want to read the whole thing, here is a 50% off coupon (TF93S)which makes it only $1.99 to purchase the entire novel!

Also if you are on GoodReads, please 'friend' or 'fan' me and I will return the favor!

1 comment:

  1. Ah, descriptors and missing vital information can be a #storykiller A for sure #rewrite I will be reading a loud again. As always love the blog and thank you for the mounds of inspiration.