Incorporating Setting into Your Scenes

Modern readers often skip over passages of description in search of the action scenes in fiction. This, like channel-surfing, may be a sign of the shorter attention span of our times.

That’s why it’s critical to incorporate a sense of place into the scenes as you tell your story. Short story writer and novelist, Eudora Welty, is a master of creating settings that are as powerful as her characters. In her essay “Place in Fiction,” she reminds us:

Harris beach

Harris Beach, Brookings, Oregon, by Jacalyn McNamara 2014

“Location is the ground conductor of all the currents of emotion and belief and moral conviction that charge out from the story in its course. These charges need the warm hard earth underfoot, the light and lift of air, the stir and play of mood, the softening bath of atmosphere that give the likeness-to-life . . . ”

Whether you’re writing mysteries, science fiction, or literary fiction, this “likeness-to-life” makes your story real for the reader.

4 thoughts on “Incorporating Setting into Your Scenes

    • Good comment. This is a real problem for all writers. Often description will slow the pace, and this can be deadening in a fast action scene. Short descriptive fragments can add a breathlessness that adds to the action. If the action is slower, your reader won’t object to the description as much–details become part of the character’s reflection and add mindfulness to the story.

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