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How To Write A Setting For Your Novel Or Story

Updated on October 1, 2014

Some Great Examples

“That night I dreamed of two brown pelicans sailing low and flat over an inland bay in late autumn, the pouches under their beaks plump with fish. In the dream they continued north in their flight, across miles of sawgrass stiff with frost and bays that looked like hammered copper. They passed over a cluster of shrimp boats tied up at the docks in a coastal town, then followed a winding bayou into the heart of the Teche country. The pelicans turned in a wide circle over a swamp thick with gum trees and cypress snags, and sailed right across the home where Jimmie and I grew up.

Through the eyes of the birds I saw the purple rust on the tin roof of the house and the cypress boards that had turned the color of scorched iron from the dust and the smoke of stubble fires in the cane fields.”

James Lee Burke “Crusader’s Cross.”

Some writers will tell you that dialogue is the hardest part of writing. For this writer, setting is easily the greatest challenge. A good writer makes a setting vivid for the readers. Through the eyes of the writer, readers are able to plainly see where the scene and story are taking place as though they were truly standing there with the characters.

It is not easy, and perhaps it is harder for me because I am continually comparing my work with great authors who I admire, like James Lee Burke and his beautiful description of Louisiana.

The great writers make it look so easy, but I am sure that it is not. Consider the opening paragraph of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath:”

“To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth. The plows crossed and recrossed the rivulet marks. The last rains lifted the corn quickly and scattered weed colonies and grass along the sides of the roads so that the gray country and the dark red country began to disappear under a green cover. In the last of May the sky grew pale and the clouds that had hung in high puffs for so long in the spring were dissipated.”

No, it is not easy!

So how do they do it? How do they manage to paint such a picture that leaves the reader mopping his brow from the suggested heat and ducking for cover to avoid the imagined mosquitoes?

There are some techniques you can practice that will help you in this endeavor. You may not end up being the next Steinbeck but you will improve your creation of a setting.

LEARN FROM THE BEST

Using the two passages above as examples, ask yourself this question: what did these two talented writers do to make their scenes so concrete? What type of phrasing did they use? What in particular helped you to visualize the scene they painted with their words?

Some writers are especially strong in their settings. Besides the two I have already highlighted, you might check out the writings of Faulkner, Jack London or Katherine Mansfield. They are exceptionally strong in their crafting and you just might learn something from studying their style. The goal is not to write like them, for there is only one Burke. The goal is to unleash that which is inside of you and is waiting to be released with a flourish.

STOP AND ENVISION

Now take some time to think about the setting you wish to create. Picture it in your mind. If it is a place you have been to before, perhaps you have some photographs that you can look at. If you have not been there before, check out similar pictures online or in old books.

Remember scenes from your childhood or other past experiences. Think of your favorite park or the bedroom you slept in as a child. Grab hold of every detail and jot down notes to help you when you begin writing. I am a big believer in not re-inventing the wheel. There is no need to create a new scene when you have lived your life in an endless array of scenes.

USE YOUR FIVE SENSES

Beginning with sight, write down every single image that comes to mind, whether it pertains to your story or not. Let your sight free-flow and make note of even the smallest of details.

Now do the same for taste, smell, sound and touch. We are brainstorming at this point and nothing is useless. You may not use all of your impressions in the story but you want a great number to choose from.

WHAT MOOD ARE YOU CREATING?

Think about the mood of your story or book. Once you have determined the mood you want to convey, then establish a setting that reflects that mood.

Is the mood somber and heavy? Then you don’t want radiant sunshine streaming through arched windows. Is the mood lighthearted? Then you don’t want the story to take place in a cancer ward of a hospital, unless….unless….you are incredibly talented. Ken Kesey pulled it off with “One Flew Over A Cuckoo’s Nest,” so anything is possible if you have game. J

DON’T STATE THE OBVIOUS IN A MUNDANE WAY

It was windy that day. It was hot that day. She was frightened. He was tall. All accurate statements but man alive they are boring.

In the paragraph mentioned above, Steinbeck not once tells us that it was hot. He allows his words and phrasing to do the job for him in exquisite fashion.

That should be your goal when painting your scene. Don’t tell us the house was messy. Describe the mess. Don’t tell us that the kitchen smelled from cat urine. Describe the smell. Don’t tell us that it was a dark and gloomy night. Instead, use the magic of language to make our skin crawl.

A possible setting for a story?
A possible setting for a story? | Source

A good explanation

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And That’s Really the Whole Point Now Isn’t It?

The magic of language!

The truly great writers allow their readers the time and space to make discoveries on their own. That’s’ what setting the scene is all about. Write it in such a way that allows the reader to walk through at their own pace and enjoy the surroundings. Never slam them in the head with the obvious. That is akin to insulting their intelligence, and a good writer never does that.

Never stoop lower than a level you feel comfortable at. In other words, do not dumb down a novel or story or article because you fear the reader cannot fathom that which you are telling them. Instead, improve your craft so that you facilitate the understanding of the reader.

Our job as writers is to entertain, inform, educate and dazzle. Our job is to strip bare, stun, manipulate and cajole. Our job is not to dumb down.

Never compromise quality because you think your readers will not understand. Have faith in your abilities to make your readers understand, and have faith also that they will rise up and meet the challenge.

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Fernando. I appreciate you sharing with us all.

    • profile image

      Fernando 4 years ago

      I live in a teeny tiny town and the nearest store that ofrfes any kind of good deal is 45 min away so when I go shopping for school supplies that are on sale I also grab all of the rest of my groceries as well

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you Bill :-)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dahlia, I'm glad you are feeling better. Best wishes my friend.

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Bill, thank you so much. I was not feeling well. Was down with vertigo. Feeling a lot better now. Hope you had a good weekend and a good day so far. Smiles :-)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dahlia, wherever you have been you have been missed. I'm glad you are back my friend, and thank you for stopping in to see me. Have a great weekend!

      hugs and blessings coming your way

      bill

    • livingsta profile image

      livingsta 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Bill, awesome hub. I missed reading your hubs and now that I am back, I will sit down to read them one by one. This one sure was a brainstorming hub. You have exactly explained how a writer has to brainstorm words to describe things, situations, feelings, etc. Thank you for this.

      Hope you are well and had a good week so far my friend.

      Sharing this :-)

      Sending you hugs and blessings...

      Dahlia

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Glimmer, they do seem to do it with ease, but I suspect it is difficult...they just have the ability to somehow do it.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      For me, a great book is one that can really paint a picture for me. I can see, smell, taste etc... what the author is writing about. All the great writers seem to do this with such ease.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Vinaya, what I say is not new....there are no new theories on writing.....but I have come to realize that few writers have had the training and been given the knowledge that you and I have....and so I share what I know to help others. :) Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael, I do not have the answer to your question. I know I am driven to write. It is a passion, yes, but I have a need to write that goes beyond passion, and I have a need to inspire others with my words. I know not where that comes from but I know it is something I must do.

      I hope you have a very fine week and thank you as always my friend.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      Bill,

      I learned most of your tips in writing program. I have couple of novel projects shelved in my drawer. One day I will take a break from everything and complete my novels.

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 4 years ago

      Hello again Bill.

      Thank you so much for your gracious compliment . I do believe your words are true; however I know I'm not yet there : eloquent , while striving ( seems to me) to compose a meaningful sentence/comment- not being sure why I'm saying what am saying...(?!) I feel there is something stronger than Michael driving me to say it that way. In comparison to other " eloquent " comments which I admire as people knowing what to say and how to say more comprehensively . Meanwhile after sending my comments I feel unease expecting , least to say a reproof . My friend something I do not understand in this " inspirational compultion " someone is giving to me while writing. It might take some time when " it happens". Need to know a few more small details to understand.

      I do appreciate your time talking to me and only heavens know how grateful am for being lead to billybuc hubpages.

      Stay blessed , safe and prosperous.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, Lurana, and thank you for stopping by on this Sunday.

    • MrsBrownsParlour profile image

      Lurana Brown 4 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

      Wonderful examples and very helpful. Thank you for sharing!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michael, you are eloquent in your comments, which leads me to believe you will be eloquent in articles once you begin. I am looking forward to the result when it happens.

      Enjoy your Sunday my friend and thank you!

      bill

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 4 years ago

      Good evening Bill, precious friend.

      Perspicacious. Masterly exhibited essential components for experienced writers in advanced stage, while ' less' advanced are given apportunity to accelerate. . .( one of them...)

      By your permission , I'll adopt " have faith in your abilities to make" - (blank , inserting mine) - " your readers understand ".

      Saying " I'm eternally grateful " agrees gratefulness now, since we're living in a portion of eternity, LOL.

      Definitely, I'm more then grateful.

      Voting up, awesome and useful.

      Have a blessed weekend - continually .

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pamela, that's great news. Good luck with your book and thank you for the kind words.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      Billy, I really like the examples you used and I find creating the scene challenging, so this hub is very helpful. I am actually rewriting a book just to make the scenes come more alive, so the timing could not be better. Thanks for a very useful hub.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, I love that description. Beautifully stated. :) Thanks and have a great weekend in OK.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      When I do creative writing, I like to entice the senses with the things that I treasure. I allow myself blind eyes in order to take the readers right there with me.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Liz, I agree, and I'm learning each and every day. Thanks for the visit and have a great day.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rasma, I think generalizations are exactly that and one size doesn't fit all. :) I love your imagination.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tenkay, you may be closer than you think. :) Thanks for stopping by.

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Fantastic hub, Bill and well-said. I think you've offered great suggestions for all writers. There's never too much advice when it comes to writing. It's one of those crafts that can always be improved! Thank you!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Bill you always give great advice and suggestions and make me think it all over. I've always heard you should write about what you know but since my world isn't all that big I prefer to use my imagination. Passing this on.

    • TENKAY profile image

      TENKAY 4 years ago from Philippines

      Alas! loooong way for me to go before I could be a writer. I enjoyed the hub and the comments, thanks a lot for sharing.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rebecca, I think you speak for a lot of writers. :) Thanks for the visit and good luck with that plot.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Hmmm. Good fodder for thought. I think setting is easier for me. It is easier to write descriptively of a place than people that are not real. Theat leaves plot...that's my hardest.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dora, it does take practice. Setting a scene is not something that comes naturally for most writers.

      Thank you my friend and have a great day.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kathleen, great tip and thanks for sharing it. I think that speaker was right on!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, you can come here and "talk too much" any old day. Thank you my dear friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, vkwok! Thanks for the visit.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Very good instructions. Details do not come easily for me, but I can see that using the senses will be a great help. Seems ordinary, but for some it takes practice. Thanks again!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      "Never compromise quality because you think your readers will not understand. Have faith in your abilities to make your readers understand." So true.

      I was in a writers conference once and the speaker asked how many of us began our books by describing the setting. Hands went up all over the room. He encouraged us to start with action and let the setting evolve. Sometimes it is good to let the setting develop as if it were another character in the story. I'm always fascinated by another writer's process. Like you, my first draft is just creating the story on paper.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Hmmmm. Miss" Talks-Too-Much," has only one thing to say: This is starting out to be a good day. I just learned something, from the BEST!

      UP+++

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for the tips!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, it is a common lament, and that's why I always suggest telling the story first and then going back and filling in with character descriptions and increased scene development. Keep working at it and you'll get it. :) Thanks as always my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm glad, Sheila. Thanks for letting me know that.

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 4 years ago

      Billy: Your response to my comment was very helpful.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      When i attempt to write a story that is fiction, several readers commented that they enjoyed the story but it was rather fast. I agreed with them. I have a difficult time building the story in a slow easy way. I hope i can learn to do that. I know that writing a setting is the most important part of a story. You keep writing and hopefully i will keep learning more and more. Thank you for all you do...

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      drbj, I'm tired of this country dumbing down for the lowest common denominator...pretty soon we won't be able to dumb down any more, and then what will we do? :)

      Thanks funny lady!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 4 years ago from south Florida

      Excellent points for writers as always, Bill. You last line especially appealed to me: 'Have faith in your abilities to make your readers understand.' Don't sell your readers short - they may be smarter than you think.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Genna, you just named a whole bunch of potential problems. Yes, pacing is tough and yes, the way we present our descriptions can be problematic. It's a hire wire we walk when writing a novel for sure.

      Thanks Genna!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sheila, I think that is a matter of personal preference. I have read a great many novels and not all writers extensively describe every scene. They usually hold off on the serious detail until they come to a scene that has dramatic impact on the story. :) I hope that helps.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Excellent hub, Billy.

      Dialogue is easier for me to write. Settings can be more challenging, but only because I think the descriptions are too poetic and I usually end up deleting them – well, most of the time. Ohhhh…that “dummy down” trap we can fall into. Ouch. Pacing is another.

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 4 years ago

      I know I don't into a lot of description for a lot of my settings, but your article has given me some things tho think about. I do try to add more descriptions when I'm trying to convey what the scene of a crime looks like, but other scenes I sort of leave to the imagination. Take for example if my characters are at a bowling alley. A lot of readers have either been to a bowling alley or have seen them in the movies, on television, etc so I leave it to them to picture it in their own way. After reading what you wrote, I may have to reconsider and add a little more when I write.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Aurelio, I love that story about Ludlum. It takes a special writer to pull off a scene in a few sentences, but the good ones can do it for sure. Thanks for visiting and sharing.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, I'm just doing my thing. :) I love it if my ideas help others; if not, there are more ideas out there from better writers than me. :) Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      cygnetbrown, I agree with you completely. Thank you!

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      alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      This brings to mind a story I read about Robert Ludlum, the best-selling author. He would often travel to the exotic destinations he portrayed and would spend several days there to get a feel of the place. And yet, he would only write one or two sentences to describe the locale. The sentences were so perfect, however, that they instantly invoked the destination in the reader's mind. Voting this Up and Useful.

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      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      "...unleash that which is inside of you..." Another great lesson you bring to your eager students, you know we are all your students right? I'm sitting in front of my computer with thunder clapping and rolling outside my window and reading each line of your hub in time with the booms.

      Thank you Bill for yet another brick in our wall!

      Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, shared and pinned.

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Donna Brown 4 years ago from Alton, Missouri

      You are welcome, Bill! I don't at all mind if you use my comment as an idea for a hub. What's nice about creative work is that creative people can take the same idea and enlighten the same audience in different ways. I could write a hub about the same subject, and the audience would still learn something from both articles.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Jo! I figured that's what it meant but I thought I would play it safe and check. :) You British sure talk funny. LOL

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      Jo Alexis-Hagues 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Bill, 'rude health' is an English slang or idiom for 'very healthy.

      See ? Not rude at all :).

      I love the idea of writing the story, then going back to enhance or enrich it. I guess I already do this, but not consciously.

      Always appreciated, take care now.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lady, you are the reason for this hub. I was hoping you would see it, and thank you for the idea. :)

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      Deonne Anderson 4 years ago from Florence, SC

      This hub contains valuable information. I have bookmarked it for later consulting. Setting descriptions is one of my areas of weakness. Your tip about using all of the senses is priceless and one I will work on immediately You are great at teaching others. Thank you. Voted up and shared.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Awww, Jackie, there you go making me blush again. :) Thank you and yes, setting the mood with the scene and vice versa. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Okay, Jo, what does it mean to be in rude health??? that's a phrase I have never heard before.

      I am doing well, thanks! Busy as always but that's how I like it. As for the hurry up to tell a story approach, I understand it completely. The story must be told first and foremost, and I think it's always best to tell the story and then go back and fill in. :)

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Hi Bill, you've shared a wealth of useful writing tips with us!.. I'm a little like Kathryn, can't wait to get to the good parts when I'm telling a story, so I tend to rush it. Reading the excerpt from those wonderful books reminded me that I need to get back to basics and start reading again. Many thanks for this, I hope you're in rude health, my best as always. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Kathryn, that's why I do the first draft telling the story, and the second draft filling in scenes and dialogue and character development. My first draft ends up being about half of what the final draft is in length. I can't tell a story and worry about scenes. LOL That is multi-tasking that is way beyond me I'm afraid.

      Good to see you my friend. Thanks for the visit.

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      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This is great, setting the scene and sort of the mood. Very good points and for sure some great authors to teach us. (Including you!) ^

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      Bill, thank you for this, it is very helpful! When I get to typing up my story, I want to go through and give it a serious look, and make sure the setting is as good as I can get it. There were times when I was writing it that I got a little lazy (I was eager to get to the "good parts"), and didn't express it quite as good as I would have if I had taken the time. But since I have been away from it for a while, I can bring a fresh viewpoint with me, and re-energize the story.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LOL...enough, DJ...my ribs hurt. :)

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      DJ Anderson 4 years ago

      Good thing you stopped me. I was down to my size 14 boat sail panties and the crowds were begging me for more. I had my hearing aid turned down--thought they were hollering

      "Go, Go!" Turns out they were screaming, "No, No!!"

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DJ, I was literally laughing out loud this time. Maybe we could skip the "stripping bare" idea for the sake of the other residents at the home. Might not be good for their hearts you know. LOL

      Thank you so much for a well-needed laugh this morning.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, you are right, dialogue is tough, but I think setting is where we really get a feel for the story.

      blessings always, and thank you!

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lizzy, I had a friend once who I called the "Master of the Obvious." LOL That's what your comment reminded me of.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Aww, shoot, Suzie, I'm just doing my thing. I learned stuff and now I share stuff, and if it helps others then fantastic.

      Thank you as always for the kind words and support. You are a gem!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      cygnetbrown, great comment and suggestion. I love the idea of seeing a scene through the eyes of several characters....and that just gave me an idea for a hub. Thank you!

    • profile image

      DJ Anderson 4 years ago

      Bill, as usual you have brought us a super Hub filled with basic

      knowledge that we as writers should know.

      I have to admit that I have been doing it all wrong. This time I took notes from your words: strip bare, manipulate, dazzle and entertain. I am sorry to say but I do not know how to 'cajole'. Is that the same as pole dancing?

      As a 62 year old, this is certainly going to be a new venture for me. Not real sure how the people at the home are going to take to this. But, if Bill says strip bare, then strip, I must!!

      DJ.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Excellent write here and very helpful as to writing a strong setting. The examples of the great writers' work you have included here are excellent to exhibit such strong settings no doubt!

      Dialogue can be tough too, but the setting is where the writer takes the reader right into the full scope and realm of the essence of the story and from where the characters interact.

      Blessings always, Faith Reaper

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      LOL I wrote the comment on your blog before I read this, then saw that subsection header that says "don't state the obvious" and I had to laugh.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Bill,

      What wealth of knowledge you constantly bring to the table! Your examples shown are brilliant examples of scene setting and it really makes such a difference when reading. I have had so many novels in my head I would love to write and maybe one day! Like many others I have pinned many of your hubs as they are constant reminders of how to progress as a writer, thank you my friend for another epic. Votes, shared and pinned.

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Donna Brown 4 years ago from Alton, Missouri

      I saw on your blog that you had written this hub, and I had to read it! I haven't written any new content in my novels in several months. I love using picture prompts to bring out the details of scenes in my work. In addition to using the five senses, I like to view a scene from the perspective of several different characters that are in the scene before committing to a single POV. That way the POV character can note the reactions from each of the other characters.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Russ, you did the hard work and crafted a very entertaining story. Now all you have to do is fill in the fluff. :) Great job my friend and thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      ann, that's a great description...almost becomes a character in the story. Great line!

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Great and important hub Bill. I am "eternally" grateful, even though that's an adverb. This is something I need to work on, as you know from The Gray Ship. Russ

    • profile image

      anndango 4 years ago

      Thanks for bringing setting to our attention. It's so important and often overlooked. I always look at setting as the foundation of the story. Without it, it leaves the reader floating around in a black hole! I recently reread The Yearling - another example of how setting becomes almost a character in the story. Voted up, shared, etc.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dabble, you might be surprised what you are capable of. Give it a try. Who knows?

      Thanks for your honesty and the visit.

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      DabbleYou 4 years ago

      Your examples are very well written. I think an amateur fiction writer will have difficulty emulating such description for a setting. Besides, those who can write it in such detail are those who are the most talented writers. I'm afraid that if I do try to write something like that, I will just be making a fool of myself. lol.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great examples, Eric. Some spy authors can take things overboard with descriptions. I think there is a fine line a writer walks between too much info and not enough. Thanks for your view on this, which I happen to agree with. :)

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      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      My favorite are the spy novel type writers who spend a page describing the clothing and appearance of a character. For me, it has not improved writing --- but it has enhanced my perception.

      I like the detective shows where instead of just a piece of film, they have us walk through a scene -- narrated by super sleuth. I think it shows that 500 words are better than any picture.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, I'm laughing about the end of your comment, about not staying consistent. I have to constantly check back on earlier chapters to make sure I haven't changed the hair color of one of my characters. LOL I don't trust my memory any longer.

      Anyway, thank you my dear friend and I hope you have a great day.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, I love that my hubs have a special section in your pinterest files...thank you for that and yes, settings in great books are just like being there and I love that.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tennicut, I write the same way. My settings are expanded on the second writing. My first writing is for telling the story. Love that example from Gaiman. Thanks for that.

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Joe and I happen to agree about blind people or those missing one of their senses.....there is so much that we experience that we don't realize. That is why it is important that we describe what our senses are, well, sensing. LOL If done properly the reader can darn near smell, taste, see, feel and hear what we want them to.

      Aloha to you my friend

      bill

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      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Your timing is always right on, Bill! (how do you do that?). When I was writing "Timeless Love" for your first fiction contest, I did some research once I settled on the Foothills of Cherokee as the setting. I had the couple riding a motorcycle experiencing the sights and smells of a country road. I researched the natural flora of the area and also the favorite foods, in order to tie into the street fair scene. Although the story was fictional, certain aspects had to be accurate in order to paint the picture and make the story believable.

      Right now I'm working on the next chapter of "The Gifts of Faith". I have taken your advice in a previous post regarding getting to know your characters. I'm making a list of Faith's traits (so far I have 13), so I can bring her forth and maintain consistency in who she is. There's nothing worse than reading something about a character that contradicts what you've learned earlier in the book, such as hair color, eye color, etc.

      Thanx for all you do to "help writers spread their wings and fly"!

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      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I am always in awe of remarkable settings in books. The temperature, the sky and the water..all gets me in a mood to keep reading...And I also love descriptions of people from the third party and how they see things..I will probably never write a novel..though there are some lurking in my head. Great hub Bill and will go in my special pinterest section for you.

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      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Bill, this is a powerful piece, one you've crafted well. Setting is SO important. I've always thought that blind people--or those handicapped in other ways--make terrific writers because the lack of accessibility to one or more senses makes them even more sensitive and thus in ownership of the potential to write such beautiful settings. I especially liked your closing section. Well put! Thanks for YOUR great settings, even and especially in your nonfiction writing. Aloha!

      Joe

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      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Janine, you day has just begun, but it will be a good one as long as I allow that to happen. Thank you for pinning and sharing so often, and if these help you then I am happy.

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      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Language can really make or break you in this case. And loved how you illustrated this in the above passages. Seriously, Bill I love when you give writing tips and always ending pinning to refer back to. I have a ton pinned by you and truly you are a wealth of information on this topic!! Thank you seriously and have, of course, voted up and shared all over. Hope you are having a wonderful day now, too!!