My greatest weakness as a writer is being able to create and describe a setting. In my prior work I would throw a few details at the reader giving them a general idea of where the characters were & then completely discard the setting to focus on what is happening. Some of my favorite authors are able to not only properly describe the setting but make it seem as if it was another character in the story. So in order to strengthen my setting weakness I began to ready Description & Setting by Ron Rozelle.
This is a part of the Write Great Fiction Series that also covers Plot Structure, Compelling Dialogue, and Revision. Now the Description & Setting book is the first I have attempted so I can’t speak about how great the series is, BUT I am enjoying this one. Part of the book includes exercises to help you improve your writing & the first one I tried was about capturing details.
The author challenges you to not only pay attention to normal sights but to look closer at the small little details. For example you notice someone eating a hotdog, normally I would notice this and then ponder upon whether I wanted a hot dog 🙂 The book encourages you to notice how the person holds the hotdog -tight in an almost death-like grip, how they consume the hotdog -In large desperate bites as if the hotdog will suddenly & inexplicably vanish from existence, and what their body language is like -Head held high to show the world he has a hotdog and is proud of his ability to eat it.
I tried this at work the other day. During a break I “noticed”, I say noticed because it sounds kind of creepy that I was watching them, one of my coworkers as they read a book. Normally that is where I would leave it but I took a second to find the details. I noticed he was situated in his chair so that he was facing away from everyone else towards a wall, just to confirm that he didn’t want to be bothered. He gently swayed back & forth in the chair, so slowly you couldn’t tell unless you were paying attention. I imagined he was reading something action packed and was involuntarily running and fighting with the main character.
I’m hoping that my new detail-capturing mind will help me discover things that will make my worlds & stories more believable. What about yourselves, how do you come up with details to fill your stories?