Daily Archives: July 20, 2012

Reading Circles – Description & Setting {Part 5}

And here we’ve made it to the end! I hope this book has encouraged you to stretch your descriptive muscles, given you some new ways to pinpoint what you mean to say, and opened up your view of the devices we can utilize to add depth and color to our writing.

Last week, we read the final chapters, and I asked you to try to:

– reveal character (real or imagined) through setting

Were you able to do that? Here’s an example I have. It’s from a short story I wrote called “The Gelaterie”, about a woman who goes to her favorite gelato shop, as is her habit, and in acting out the scenes of her daily routine, we begin to see that things are not so routine after all. If you’d like to read the story, I’d recommend you do so before continuing this post because I’m about to give away the crux of the biscuit – which will also make more sense if you have read the story.

So, in this following example, I reveal the prime motive and conflict in one paragraph:

She was just two blocks away from her apartment, but she couldn’t make it. She couldn’t get there because she knew when she walked through her front door, there would be no Mr. Keane. There would be no Charlie. There would be no lights on in the living room and no pasta simmering on the stove, with a husband and child waiting to greet her and tell her about their day. There would just be emptiness. An empty, dark gaping hole of an apartment with sympathy cards on the table instead of dinner plates, unanswered messages from her sister instead of kisses from John, and faded flowers in murky vases and frozen casseroles from the ladies at church, instead of Charlie’s untied shoes littering the floor and the free-wheeling croon of the Snow Patrol album John played when she wasn’t home so she couldn’t lovingly mock him.

So in the course of the story, the big reveal is not a bold statement about what happened. It’s in the details of the setting, specifically the apartment. All the things that aren’t there, and the things that are but the main character wishes they weren’t.

Do you want to try your hand at it? Give it a go and link it up!

Next week, I’ll share a short article on how to write a novel. A few people have asked me how I even begin the monumental task of writing a book. Well, for me, it does not begin with the first sentence. The principle part begins long before that!

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