Exercises Making a Setting Vivid

1. Choose three short stories to read and think about. For each story, write brief answers to the following questions:

a. How important is the setting to this story?

b. To what extent does the author bring in physical, sociological, and psychological dimensions of the place where the story occurs?

c. How does the setting influence the events of the story, or of particular scenes?

d. Would you consider the setting to be a character in this story? Why or why not?

e. If you changed the setting, how would the story change?

f. What kinds of details does the author provide about places in the story? Do the chosen details fit the story and the characters? How might the choice of details change if this were a different kind of story?

g. What sensory impressions does the author evoke? Find examples of the use of all five senses.

h. How well did the author succeed in bringing you into the story world?

2. Choose a location that is familiar to you, for instance, a room in your home, workplace, or school. Write five paragraphs, describing this place in each of the following ways:

Paragraph 1: A straight, objective description.

Paragraph 2: As if you were writing a comic story or a spoof.

Paragraph 3: As if you were writing a romance.

Paragraph 4: As if you were writing a mystery or suspense story.

Paragraph 5: As if you were writing a horror story.

3. Read The Life of the Party on page 53 and decide what kind of party this is and where it is taking place. Rewrite the scene from the point of view of one of the characters, emphasizing the setting. Feel free to add details; you don't need to stick to the events described. For example, the party could be:

• A political fund-raiser at a California winery or in a New

York City hotel.

• A barbecue on a Texas ranch or in a suburban backyard in the Northeast.

• A New Year's Eve party in San Francisco, Boston,

Honolulu, or Houston.

4. Pick a sensory impression—a color, a texture, a sound, a scent, or a taste. Imagine a location where you might experience that impression. Using the sensory impression as a jumpingoff point, write a brief scene that takes place there.

5. Write three separate paragraphs describing the town where you grew up. In each paragraph, emphasize a different dimension:

Paragraph 1: The physical environment. Paragraph 2: The sociological environment. Paragraph 3: The psychological environment.

6. Set a timer for five minutes. Copy the following passage and, when you reach the ellipsis (...), keep writing without lifting your pen from the paper or your fingers from the keyboard. Continue the story, telling what happens next, until the timer sounds. Try to bring in impressions from all five senses.

When I got home, I went into my room. At first I didn't notice anything wrong. Then my heart jumped into my throat, because suddenly...

7. Select a scene from a story you have written or one you wrote for an exercise in this book. Rewrite the scene in a totally new setting. Keep the characters and the situation the same as much as possible, but change them as the new setting demands.

Chapter 6

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  • sophie
    7 years ago

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