One of the most overlooked parts of writing, one of the main characters who seem to always fall into the shadows of the background, happens to be, well, the background.
I don’t know about you, but for me, when I am caught in the throws of an action scene or lost in the rivers of tense character emotions I find that I often forget to describe the world around them.
Part of the struggle for me is that I already see the setting so clearly in my imagination that I often forget that no one else can see as I see. I need to paint with my words.
When we take pictures from our vacations and look at them long enough, our senses become sensitive to the memories evoked by the scenes.
The next step in my struggle comes from being able to do so authentically without schlepping a bunch of words together without the needed care that the character-called-background or setting, needs.
In one of the previous creative writing exercises called, Coffee with Character, I encouraged you to sit down with your characters to find out the little nuances about who they are as people; dig in to find out the traits that may not necessarily be mentioned in the book, but that still have a direct effect on how your characters behave.
In this exercise, we are going to get to know the setting of the worlds we are creating by immersing ourselves within them.
This prompt is inspired by an exercise created by my eldest sister, and I find that it has great influences in helping to better express through words the images of the surroundings within our stories.
GETTING TO KNOW YOUR WORLD:
- Take a moment and think about the world you want to describe, from the micro-view to the macro-view.
- Jot down what comes to mind.
- Surf the web for stock images that come the closest to what you are imagining.
- Print them out and create a gallery wall of the images within your creative writing workspace. (Directly in your line of sight is best.)
- As descriptions come to the forefront of your mind, type them in a separate Word document or directly within the manuscript you are currently working on.
The point is to become so visually familiar with the scenery that describing it comes as easy as breathing.
When we take pictures from our vacations and look at them long enough, our senses become sensitive to the memories evoked by the scenes. We feel the sand again, smell the scent of rain, hear the kick-drums during the drummer’s solo at a concert.
We, by looking at the images, can tell the story of the scene as if they are happening a new. This is our aim with our fictional worlds.
This same exercise can be used when creating characters in fiction as well. Finding images that best fit their physical descriptions helps you, the writer, to become more acquainted with them. Seeing them brands them to your mind and opens up paths of imagination about them.
Give this exercise a chance and let me know in the comments how it has helped you to be immersed in and better describe the fictional worlds you are creating.
Right on? Write on!
~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!