Prompt #48 was about how to “Grow Your Character.” We’ll talk about location as character (exterior and interior) in this post and how to set the mood, or the tone of the scene.
Let the reader know right away where the scene is happening, include details such as place, year, season, weather, and perhaps time of day. Not in an information dump, rather, weave in these details.
Furniture tells a lot about a person. Sparse? Elegant? Are there cooking utensils on the kitchen counter? Neat and tidy? Cluttered?
The city (setting) can be a character in the story. Examples: Dashiell Hammett and San Francisco, Lisa Scottoline and Philadelphia.
The Christmas tree in The Nutracker becomes a character as it expands.
As you write details about the setting and location, try to use dialogue and action. Think Casablanca and the Maltese Falcon.
Elements of setting the mood:
Where does this scene take place?
City (real or mythical), urban, suburban, small town, hamlet, metropolis
Time of day
Weather can match mood of story
Example of a freewrite, using details to set the mood:
Martha pulled back the Coventry lace curtains, squinting past the newly pruned rose bushes, past the edged lawn and noted the weather. She raised her coat collar high above her ears, and picked up her fur-lined gloves from her bureau. One more look in the mirror to check if her seams were straight. It wouldn’t do to meet Monsieur Blanchard looking like a two-bit whore.
She walked downstairs.
“Good night, Father. Don’t wait up. I’ll be rather late.”
Mr. Edmonton lowered his reading glasses and glanced at his daughter.
“Setting out in this weather, are you?”
“Yes, Father, I have an important client to meet.”
“I don’t like the looks of this. Where are your rubbers? You aren’t dressed appropriately. You’ll catch your death.”
“I’m fine, Father. You worry too much.” She brushed his bald head with her lips and was out the door before he realized a limo had stopped in front of their flat.
Your turn: Write details about setting and location, using dialogue and action.
For more prompts on location:
A place where you find satisfaction. Prompt #25
Location, or place as a character Prompt #8
Photo of hem of Coventry lace curtain