Setting and Atmosphere

GETTING A FEEL OF PLACE AND TIME

Whenever and wherever your story is set, a thorough knowledge of the period and location about which you are writing is vital.

Using all five senses

You need to use all the five senses, sight, sound, smell, touch and taste, if you are to convey a feeling of time and place.

In the following extract from Susan Moody's novel Husha-Bye, her central character, Harriet, is staying with her grandparents. Opening with the sense of smell and continuing this as an overriding theme throughout the passage, the author skilfully brings all Harriet's senses into play to paint a vivid picture of the house and its occupants.

The house in Cornwall smelled different from the one in London: shinier, cleaner. Harriet's grandmother spent her time arranging flowers picked from her garden, polishing the furniture, filling the days with small routines, doing what she had done yesterday and what she would do again tomorrow. The lavender-scented sheets on their beds were starched and made of linen; there were starched napkins at meals too, with monograms in one corner. She did things in due season; made marmalade, collected windfalls, stirred Christmas puddings, cut the stalks of lavender and sewed the scented grains into sachets of lace and ribbon. Things were done at prescribed times; milk drunk at eleven, a walk at three, the radio switched on at 5.54 for the weather forecast before the six o'clock news.

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