Setting It Up

In Chapter 11 of The Complete Handbook for Novel Writing Lisa Lenard-Cook teaches how to establish a setting with accuracy, originality, and telling detail. Accuracy means the particularity of the details match the story to make it feel true. The setting should quickly tell the reader when and where the character is, why he’s there, and should prepare him for what’s about to happen.

Today I’ll practice writing a setting using this formula:

 An iron door creaks on its hinges to reveal a steel-faced man in black combat boots and blue fatigues. He frivolously salutes the guard and strides into the long concrete hallway whistling his national anthem. Dim red light smolders on the ceiling and flushes the walls. He pauses to intentionally capture the scent of dirty bodies, open wounds, and freshly polished boots. Then he reaches cell 13-A.

“It’s time for your appointment!” he sings through the bars.

On the other side a crumpled pile of rags, limp and filthy, cowers into the floor.

Are the details accurate, original and telling? Feel free to leave feedback in the comments!


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