Setting & Description Exercises

  1. Start a “setting” journal. Begin looking at the world around you with a writer’s eye. Make observations about everyday details, such as weather, topography, flora and fauna. But also make note of emotional connections, unusual metaphors, descriptive phrases, sensory responses, etc–anything and everything you observe and experience can be used in your fiction at some point. Start researching foreign or historical settings of interest to you and note your findings in your journal. Keep track of resources such as reference books, articles, websites, etc. for additional follow-up. If your setting research sparks any story or character ideas, be sure to note those as well.
  2. From memory, write a descriptive paragraph of a room in your house (or at work, or someone else’s house). Once you’ve finished, take your paragraph to that room and read it, comparing your description with what you see. What changes would you make?
  3. Every room has a personality, every room gives off some sort of emotional intensity. A living room may be sterile and make a visitor feel unwelcome. A bedroom might be excessively frilly and make a visitor feel smothered. With that in mind, go to any room in your house. Just as if that room were a character, select the one object in that room that best conveys the room’s personality. Describe that object in such a way that the reader feels the emotional effect of that room.

This article was taken from the course Fundamentals of Fiction Writing. Click here to register for the course now!

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