Describing the setting comes easy to some writers, while others struggle with it. Writing a good description of a place is in no way an easy task. You have to be able to transport the readers into the place that your characters occupy, and make the readers see through the eyes of your characters. However, your task doesn’t end there. In order to write descriptions that will mesmerize your readers, you will have to let go of the minimalist style of writing that you have used in action scenes and add a little bit of flair, without alienating the readers. So, how do you write mesmerizing descriptions without going into purple prose territory? Below, you can find several ways to do so.
1. Practice on your surroundings
Go to a park, on a bus, a train station, or another place of your choosing. Sit down and describe what you are seeing in a notebook. If the place is familiar to you, then describe it again – from a stranger’s point of view. Also, if the place is new to you, then describe it as someone who has been there plenty of times before. Then, go back home and read your words. Did they manage to transport you back to the place you described? If they did, then repeat the exercise from the comfort of your own home. Then reread your words again. Once you’ve done this enough times, you will be able to describe any setting in a realistic way, no matter whether it’s a real place or a place that exists only in your head.
2. Use your protagonist’s eyes
You might think that you’re using your protagonist’s eyes already, even if you are not. When you are, you focus not on what is imperative that your protagonist sees (which is usually something really important to the plot), but on what your protagonist’s eyes will be drawn to. For example, if your protagonist is an artist, the first thing they will notice in their surroundings will be colors and shapes. Sure, colors and shapes might not be super important to your plot, and maybe the protagonist should see the gun you’ve placed on the wall first, but that can come later. They can even be surprised that they didn’t notice it immediately.
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3. Choose your words with care
There is a right place and time for everything, especially in writing. You cannot pause an action scene to describe the corner where your protagonist and antagonist will wrestle – you should have done that before the action scene. This is why pacing is extremely important. It is always a good idea to delay the action scene for two or three paragraphs to describe where the action scene will take place. There are two benefits from the delay. First, you will slow down the pace considerably before the action scene, like the calm before a storm, and you will plunge your readers into the next scene. Second, you can write the action scene using faster pace and shorter sentences, and you wouldn’t have to say where each weapon or place is or had been, because you’ve already described that before.
4. Invoke every sense
When it comes to the mechanics, if we can call them that, of writing descriptions, then using all of the senses is a given. You must be aware of how the place you are describing smells and sounds like, as well as whether it is cold or warm. If your protagonist is sitting down, are they comfortable? If they are lying in a bed, what do the sheets smell and feel like? Remember to use as concrete words as possible. A curtain can move in the breeze from the open window, but it can also flutter, or be blown inside by the force of the wind. This is the right place where you can use descriptive words to show how something moves, feels or looks like.
5. Use the protagonist’s emotions
Breezes carry scents. Does the aforementioned breeze carry the scent of the sea? If it does, then, what kind of an effect does it have on your protagonist? Does it bring back childhood memories, or memories of a different kind? Is your progtagonist indifferent towards the scent or deeply affected? Emotions bring the setting alive, especially your protagonist’s, and even other characters’ emotions too. And not only nostalgic emotions, or sadness. They might be powerful, but positive emotions, happiness and joy can have an impact as well. When you place your protagonist in a setting that’s important to the plot – then make it important to the protagonist as well by forming a connection between them and the place. This way, you will teleport the readers into your setting and you will ensure your readers, by knowing your protagonist’s emotions, will connect more to your protagonist.
Image credit: Pixabay [author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/photo.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As an art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.