Is your setting real enough?

Nevada, Abandoned, Building, Shack, Shed, DesertMy new project was humming merrily along as, each evening, I added two new pages. They’d fled, evading capture, and headed off up the mountain. Then, as they approached the area where they would make camp, the story ground to a halt.

I dutifully kept my butt in my chair, adding a sentence, deleting a sentence and generally annoying myself.  Why couldn’t I get them as far as the deserted mansion?  Maybe, said the tart voice in my head, it’s because you can’t envision your setting?

Oh.  I’d been trying to write about the wreckage of an old estate and although I’ve been through abandoned forts and deserted mining settlements, ramshackle mansions have not been a part of my past. I typed “deserted mansion” into a Google image search and found myself clicking through sprawling stone estates in Europe, ante-bellum disasters, and a towering urban structures standing shoulder-to-shoulder with equally deserted neighbors.  Then I saw it. Red brick. Three stories.  In the middle of a field.  There were even interior shots.  As soon as I had my setting in sight, the words flowed.  You can find my r

When you find yourself unable to write your characters through a scene, give some thought to the setting.  If you can’t see it in your mind’s eye, get online and do some looking around.  Not that you should stop with the visuals.  You need to know what it sounds like when a door screeches open, how a long empty house smells, and the feel of spongy half rotten wood underfoot.

Staring with photos and a picture in your mind allows you to write with the level of detail that is essential in creating realtic writing that draws your reader into the story.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to do some research on general stores.  Check out my image research here on Pinterest.


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