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Have you ever read a story that just grabbed you and sucked you in? Of all the stories that I have read that managed to do this, they did this in one of two ways: kick-ass characters (read my post on characters) or descriptive scenery (sometimes a little of both). Scenery can be super hard to write at times.
One one hand, you need to give your readers enough so they can picture what the character is seeing, smelling or hearing, however you can’t bore them to tears either! You’re not going to want to interrupt a climactic scene with a lengthy paragraph or two about every single plant or tree in the forest scene where it takes place right?
Here are some of my favorite questions to ask, I don’t always use all that I write for a particular scene, however answering the bulk of these helps me picture my writing. I am not a “pantser” writer, I’m much more a “plotter” and thus like to be quite thorough in my plotting. My thoughts on this are if I (the writer) haven’t got a clue where we’re headed, how on earth can I expect my reader to guess?
- Season? For fantasy realms, I also like to determine if there’s something unusual about the seasonal progression. George R. R. Martin did this with his fantastic series A Song Of Ice And Fire.
- Smells? A description of a scent can be particularly impactful.
- Sounds? Is there music playing? Silence?
Choose Your Adjectives Carefully
Think about the image you want to create with your scene. Is it dark? Is it bright and sunny? Your character also might help you determine what sort of emotional reaction you want to create with your scene. Think about a crowded bar scene for example. An introvert would want to crawl off into the night than face that, however, an extrovert would be in their element in such a scene. Describe your scene in a way that makes sense from the perspective of your character, because that is who you want your reader to relate to. Your readers are not going to read on through the next 100 or more pages if they can’t relate to the main character.
Relevance Is Key
If your paragraph-long description of the snow-capped mountains off in the distance has minimal bearing on the main thrust of your story, you can trust your readers will be bored. You can effectively describe those mountains very briefly in one sentence and be done with it.
Depends on the Scene
It depends ultimately on the type of scene you’re writing. A fight scene, for example, you’re going to want to likely focus more on the characters and what they are doing rather than their immediate surroundings.
Scenery ultimately is used as a tool to create an image for your readers, but taking it too far will only result in boredom.
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Also if you have any additional tips, I’d love to hear from you in the comments down below! Until next time, keep creating!
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