Monday Sparks: Dive into this Setting

Last Friday, I had the chance to put into practice the writing lesson I mentioned in last week’s prompt and dive into the setting in which my family and I found ourselves in when we visited a local park for an owl hunt with a naturalist.

As we walked through the woods, and the naturalist called to the owls, I tried to immerse myself in the setting, using all of my senses. I couldn’t take notes at the time, but here are my impressions.

  • Stars glitter in the black sky
  • Almost full moon throws moon shadows
  • Boots squeak on the thin layer of snow.
  • No smells
  • Moon ignites ice-encased tree branches, making them sparkle
  • Trees not directly in moonlight twinkle, like stars caught here and there on their branches, or the branches sparsely decorated with Christmas lights.
  • Moonlight can look sinister, like a bad imitation of sunlight

Another sense to add to the customary five is the feeling a setting gives me. Walking through those glittering trees, I didn’t want to miss one beautiful aspect. I kept looking and looking. I was overcome with a sense of wonder, reveling in the beauty of God’s nature, in awe of how He didn’t have to make nature so breath-taking.

Because of the feelings this setting evoked, I will probably use it in a scene where my main character feels the same. I did have one observation that didn’t fit with my sense of awe, how the moonlight can look sinister. If I want to exploit that aspect of it for a different scene, I’ll need to either revisit the experience in my head or head out on another night hike. I like that latter idea better.

Have you hiked in snowy woods at night? How would you dive into this setting?

Monday Sparks — What's the Setting?

For February, the theme is setting. I am in the middle of reading an extremely helpful book on the subject, Description & Setting by Ron Rozelle. One piece of advice found in the book is to always carry a journal with you so that if you find an interesting setting or person, you can jot down all your impressions, then refer back to these impressions if you want to use that setting or person in a story.

For today’s prompt, I’m going to imagine that I’m sitting in this crowded room. What impression does it make on me? Here are my notes.

  • Crowded, knees cramped under table
  • Smell a very strong perfume, choking me
  • Lots of rustling papers, creaking seats
  • Smell something spicy. Lunch? Cologne?
  • Speaker’s voice — very flat, uninteresting
  • Heat from so many crammed in one room
  • Take off jacket
  • Warmth makes me want to find freedom
  • Doodling. Several other people are too.

If I need a scene with a crowded meeting or classroom, and my main character is bored, I can draw on my notes from this setting. Here’s a possibility.

If the exalted bosses of CJ&M actually want us to get something out of this meeting, couldn’t they find a presenter who speaks in more than one tone?

Scooting back my seat to stretch my cramped legs, I bumped the table behind me. Murmuring an apology over my shoulder, I caught again the choking odor of lilacs. Who had decided that twenty dabs of perfume wasn’t enough? I coughed and peeled off my jacket, the back of my shirt damp.

What notes would you make about the setting?

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