Write That Scene: Bring Your Setting to Life

I’ve recently discovered the reason for my extended writer’s block. It wasn’t a lack of ideas. The plot bunnies continue to multiply, thankfully. It wasn’t that I couldn’t think of anything to write–it was that I knew I could write it better. I just didn’t know how.

I would like to share with you a gem of an article: Four Ways to Bring Setting to Life by Moira Allen. (Please visit the link for her full article & bio!)

You would think, as a writer, that the things she reveals to us are second-nature. That’s how simple it really is. Put yourself in the shoes of your character. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell? How does it feel? Where are you heading? What mood are you in?

Too often we read a setting description that feels like we’re being given a thorough tour of one room from floor to ceiling–and it’s boring. I am currently reading a book that does just this far too often and I’ve given up on the story altogether. How can I get to the story when I have holdups in the character’s living room, shoving details into my head that I don’t care about?

If a setting is done well, the reader will be swept right into the story with the character. That’s the kind of writing I aim to master.

As I always like to do, I put Ms. Allen’s tips into practice on my latest WIP, This Side of Heartache. Take a look:

Ellie sat with her head back, immersed in the warm water of the deep ceramic tub. She heard her phone ring from her bedside table in the next room but kept still as if so much as breathing would give her away. It was Willa’s ringtone. Why should she answer? What does she want me to say? Ellie sighed long and gentle, blowing little ripples across the water as she sank lower until it lapped at her earlobes, and stilled again. There was nothing left of the bath bomb save for lilac-colored foam swirling around her face and the islands of her knees. The calming scent of lavender rubbed at her nose as it rose with the steam. As Willa’s ringtone repeated itself, she slid forward along the smooth bottom and lay her head afloat, staring up at the curtain rod fitted to the white tiled wall and listening to the tiny splashes that lapped at her ears and the whispered fizz of tiny suds. Magic. Her tension seeped through her pores into the water, her body feeling lighter and lighter with each passing moment. When the call finally went to voicemail, Ellie inhaled and slid below the surface. She felt the sting of soap at the corners of her eyes, but she didn’t want to open them anyway. It was the sounds she craved–the thrum of blood rushing through her ears and the soft, steady drum of her heart, amplified by her liquid sanctuary. Now and then a rogue drop would fall from the faucet and plink, plink; but she didn’t mind because when the dripping faded and the rest blended into euphony, Ellie, for the first time since leaving home, was at peace. 

©️ Copyright 2019 | Nicole Starleigh | All Rights Reserved

Want to give it a try? Leave your sample in the comments. Please try to keep it to one paragraph. Remember to use constructive criticism when responding to others’ posts as this is a writers’ support community.

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