Monday, 23 May 2016

Writing Exercise: Setting the Scene

‘We are the children of our landscape; it dictates behaviour and even thought in the measure to which we are responsive to it.’ -  Lawrence Durrell

Environment is inescapable, it shapes our beliefs, our habits, our thoughts. A strong setting can say just as much in a story as the words of your characters. Use these exercises to explore the power of setting.

  • Find random images of places – lighthouses, planets, sheds, deserts, cafes – write for ten minutes about who you could imagine living in these spaces. Tease out the links between these places and their inhabitants.
  • Find an environment you know very well. Take a memory from this place and entwine it with your description of it. Let’s say you choose your childhood home: how does the description of your staircase change when you incorporate the memory of slipping on the third stair up as a child?
  • Look at this quote from The Creative Writing Coursebook: ‘Writing with a secret agenda gives a prose a pulse, a hidden but very real sense of animation. John Gardner in The Art of Fiction describes an exercise in which you are asked to describe a barn as seen by a man whose son has just been killed in a war. Do not, he says, mention the son or the war or death. “if worked on hard enough, a wonderful image will be evoked, a real barn would stand before us but one filled with mysterious meaning.”’ Use this principle to describe a place from a character’s perspective.
  • As this great article shows houses can make brilliant characters in their own right. Take a building or structure of some sort and give it a personality. Write about it like it’s a character in its own right.
What do you think of these exercises? Do you have any favourite setting exercises? Let me know below…


Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...