Saturday, 24 January 2015

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Creating a Scene...

Many years ago, when I first started learning the craft of writing, someone said to me, ‘treat your setting like you would any other character in your story’. At first, I didn’t exactly understand what was meant by that. After all, is setting really that important? Do we really need to give it as much attention as our hero and heroine’s character? Yes, and yes. We do.

You see, setting isn’t just about where the story takes place. Setting, and its characteristics, can really add dimension to your scene and story as a whole. What do I mean by this?

Well, take a forest for example. Yes, it’s full of trees, and you could easily leave it at that. But, a forest is so much more than that. Let’s use the five scenes to create a character for our forest.

Think about what you would see in a forest. There are wild mushrooms, sap crusts, spider webs, and thick underbrush, to name but a few.

What would you hear in a forest? Squawking birds, groaning trees, animal screeches, or the scrabbling of lizards on tree bark. Think back to the last time you were in the forest. What did you hear?

Personally, I love the smell of a forest. It’s richly scented with wild flowers, and the minty, pine, honey scent of eucalyptus trees. But, the forest can also smell unpleasant. There are stagnant pools of water, dead animals, and the foul smell of animal dung.

What about the taste of a forest? Now, before you run off into the forest, in the name of research, to find out the tastes of a forest, just be careful not to pop random berries or leaves into your mouth for obvious reasons! Think about what can be found in the forest? What does a mushroom taste like? Are berries sweet or sour?  And what would pine needle tea taste like?

Have you ever ran through a forest? What did the leaves feel like as they brushed against your sleeveless arms, or as you brushed up against the rough bark of a tree? How does the soft forest breeze feel against your heated skin, or the hot, muggy, thick unmoving air, that makes your clothes stick to your body?

Of course, the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches of a forest in winter will be greatly different to a forest in summer, or spring, or autumn. They will even be different between morning, noon and evening. And do not get me started on a forest in the dead of night. SPOOKY!

Do you see, just by really thinking about each of the senses, our forest that is just full of trees, really takes on a life of its own? It comes alive and your readers will feel as if they are there in the forest with your characters.

One last point. As a rule of thumb, I tend to use at least two (three if possible) of the five senses in every scene.

Here is an example from my own writing. This piece is taken from my latest release, Of Love and Vengeance.

The first example is a scene without using any of the sense to set the scene:

She stood poised in the middle of the stream, her bow and arrow at the ready, as she waited for tonight’s evening meal to swim by.

It's a bit blah, isn't it? You don't really feel like you're there in the stream with her. There is no connection to the scene.

Now, here it is with the senses...

The sun was warm on Laila’s back, and she closed her eyes and sighed as the cool, clean crisp water slipped over her bare feet. The mud, sticky and thick, squished between her curled toes. The low hum of insects and trill of birds filled the otherwise quiet clearing.

She stood poised in the middle of the stream, her skirts hitched up around her thighs and her bow and arrow at the ready, as she waited for tonight’s evening meal to swim by. She winced as the sharp edge of a rock bit into the fleshy under sole of her foot. But she did not dare move.

See the difference, aside from the increased word count!

Why not pick out a scene you’re currently working on and think about the setting. How many of the five senses have you used? Can you add more depth to your scene by getting to know your setting?

If you’re feeling brave, why not share a paragraph or two that clearly shows the characteristics of your setting by using at least three of the five senses?

Happy writing!

ANGELA HAYES - Love's Battle

If love isn't worth fighting for, what is?
Love Howard has more than a knack for matchmaking. Born from a forbidden passion and a twelve-hundred-year-old promise, she and her sisters can literally see true love. And while Love has no problem bringing other couples together, her own romantic life could use a little help.

Danton DeAngelo has always been well grounded in reality. So it throws him for no small loop when the woman he’s fallen for believes that she’s been reincarnated eleven times and can actually see true love.

Now Danton is faced with the biggest decision of his life. Accept Love for who she really is, or walk away from her forever.

The hand Love pressed to her brow was visibly shaking. “There’s something I need to tell you. I just need you to keep an open mind.”

“What is it? Are you sick?” Danton asked.

“No, I’m not sick.” Her voice trembled on a forced laugh. “It’s something else. Something I‘ve been trying to prepare you for. This would be so much easier if you believed in magic. If you could believe that what I’m about to tell you is the honest truth.”

Turning, Love opened the iron chest, the hinges groaning with the effort as specks of rust littered the floor. From its depths she pulled out a clear plastic bag that she held tight to her chest, eyes closed, before handing it to a confused Danton.

“This is my tartan, my plaid. Before it faded and was dinner for the moths, it was once patterned in checks of green, gray, and brown. The purple and white stripes that ran through the hem identified the wearer as part of the royal family.” Love tapped the plastic, her finger pointing out where each color should be. “It was a gift from my father. The first and only time my sister’s and I met him, he was on his deathbed, we were eighteen. A week later our mother died in the same moment he drew his last breath.” Needing the extra air Love drew a breath of her own. “That day was the thirteenth of February, eight-hundred and fifty-eight AD. My father was Cinaed mac Alpin, crowned king of the Picts and Gaels. He was Scotland’s first king.”

“Eight- hundred and fifty-eight?” That couldn’t be right, she was only twenty-five. “Don’t you mean Nineteen-eighty-seven?”

“No. I was born for the first time in Scotland during the middle of the ninth century.”

A married mother of two, I split my time between bringing characters to life by computer, and yarn to life with needle and hook. You can find me at ANGELA HAYES BLOGSPOT and follow me on Pinterest and on Twitter. Other places you can find me: MANIC READERS, AMAZON and GOODREADS.