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Original Fic Challenge: Write A Story About A First for a Character

Original Fic Tip: Build Your Setting Around Your Character's Point of View

Today's tip is about how to ensure a setting is tied to a character's Point of View and comes from this article.

Masterful setting description teaches us an important lesson: writers need to take the time to paint enough of a sensory-rich picture in order for readers to feel they are there—or at very least, get a glimpse of how the setting feels and looks to the POV (Point of View) character.

..When you are in POV and you describe a tree, you are not giving dry statistics about that tree; you are sharing what that character notices when looking at that tree. And the way that tree is described has to:

1. fit the character’s personality, vocabulary, background, and education (you can’t have an educated character describe the tree the way a botanist would);

2. fit the character’s mood at that moment (the choice of phrasing and adjectives, as well as the aspects of the tree noticed, has to reveal, mirror, or imply the mind-set);

3. and help set the tone of the scene.

I’m often asked how much sensory detail should be put in a description...If pressed to give a general answer to the question of amount, I would say this: Choose 2-3 senses in describing setting, then come up with at least 3-4 masterful sentences that showcase those sensory details. Make them details that help paint that picture for the reader

Now go forth and write!


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 21st, 2018 03:24 am (UTC)
Dialogue was always easy for me. Setting the scene less so. I've worked really hard over the years to improve the scenic descriptions.
This may be one of my favorite descriptive passages I've written to date:
The pavement was shimmered, damp and oily, the smell of rain and cigarette butts thrown up with each passing car. Any more, the streets were always wet, a near constant drizzle filling most days and nights, punctuated by the occasional deluge that gushed along the sharp curbed street-sides in search of a drain that was not plugged with dented coffee cups, crumpled paper food wrappers, plastic bags punctured and torn, and the other flotsam and jetsam mankind so easily tossed away without thought or care.
They cared about so very little.
Turning the pointed collar of his rain-slick trench coat up to block out the creeping draft his blue and gold tartan scarf failed to prevent, he side-stepped the staggering drunk, a derelict seeking refuge in this particular doorway from the damp but stumbling on when he realized the askew crevice was already occupied by the stocky bald man in a wide-brimmed fedora.
It was not his girth nor presence that was the deterrent, however. He knew this, the way he knew so many things. There were three sorts. Always three sorts. The drunk just happened to be one of them.
With the rain dripping from the brim of his hat, he tilted his head to look up at the dull gray, off-kilter tower of the crumbling, weathered building across the street, a collective network of rooms housing the poor, the wretched, the downtrodden and persecuted. It was no different, really, then any other on this street, or the streets in the immediate vicinity, men and women penniless and poor of spirit who had nowhere else to go, nothing else to do except scrape and slither through the damp underbelly in effort to live and eke out some measure of play and pleasure
Most, however, rarely rose to greatness, despite their consistent, dogged efforts. Most, caught in the throes of those pursuits, barely survived.
No, what was different about this building was there. Up there, somewhere, on the ninth floor, behind dirty draperies drawn shut against the night over cracked glass that did little to keep out the perpetual clinging chill of the city. Like every other fragmented window he could see, the frame was off-balance as it bore the weight of stone, cement, and steel sliding to ruin around it. There…where it had not been before. There…a sense followed through streets like a silver-braided thread, ending in a knot he thought he would never feel again. It was not there yet, but somehow he knew it would be.
His curse was knowing. Knowing just so much…but never enough.
Oct. 21st, 2018 03:24 am (UTC)
It's a first draft, so it's open to adjustment in the future ;)
Oct. 31st, 2018 02:06 am (UTC)
What a great description - and I love how you worked in all the senses. You also really get a sense of how the setting affects the character's mood!
Oct. 31st, 2018 02:12 am (UTC)
I'm definitely trying to set a tone, a mood. I'm seeing the old noir, old German expressionist silent films...full of contrasting light and shadows, clashing angles and swirls...and trying really hard to get what I see in my head onto the page. Its angels and demons and humanity, so the contrasts is important...but man is it difficult to write.
I'm eager to get back to this story and world.
Nov. 1st, 2018 01:29 am (UTC)
well it definitely works - and adds a lot of dimensions to the character too!
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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