1. neuropsychopharm
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    neuropsychopharm Active Member

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    How descriptive of the setting should I be?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by neuropsychopharm, Jan 20, 2013.

    I'm not the best at setting up the scenery for my stories. I'm just not sure how much description is necessary. For example, I'm working on a first person POV story in which the main focus is the narrators deteriorating mental state. A beta reader told me details of my setting should stand out more.

    Now when I think of setting I think of describing the surroundings, the sense feelings and things like that. I feel I've got the emotional "setting" down, but how descriptive of surroundings does one need to be? A fast food place looks like a fast food place, a club a club. You know? Should I really delve deeper into how everything looks/sounds/tastes/hears?

    I hope my questions make sense :p
     
  2. Salamander
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    Salamander Member

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    Perhaps you should give a short sample of the scene in question, or a sample, so I can figure out how much description you already use.

    Description of surroundings does not have to be vital to the plot, but it should at least hold the reader's interest if you go into detail about the shape of the stain on the coffee table. Clever analogies are the way to go.

    "I didn't look around. No need. Like a bat with echolocation I already knew the width and the depth of that awful little taco shack like the back of my hand. A drink machine was crouched against the far wall, bathed in the light of a halogen bulb that flickered just a little bit too slow. It combined with the sound of the broken AC unit to give him one awful headache that could only be cured by shots of greasy tequila. Ah the grease. It was everywhere. Greasy counters. Greasy floors. Greasy stools. It was on everything, and god only knew when the last health inspector had come along. Perhaps one of the massive rats that lived underneath the fryer had killed him and dragged him underneath. Perhaps even now his corpse was being gnawed into little bits, flavored by the occasional drippings from the chef's careless splashes above. The regulars were a grizzled bunch, all scar tissue and hard stares. They had never spoken a word to each other, but they had an understanding closer than friendship. You don't bother me, I won't bother you. Today that silent agreement was going to broken."
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    For your bar, I do find myself wanting some description and some acknowledgement of the transition into the bar. But not much; a line would do it. Maybe less than a line. For example:

    When we arrive to blasting music and flashing strobe lights, I'm already past tipsy, walking carefully in the purple heels I borrowed from her. I feel ridiculous, but in an incredible sort of way. She’s allowed herself two drinks like that’s not still illegal, so she tunnels straight through the crowd to the bar.

    Music, lights, and a crowd. That gives me enough detail to form my own picture as a reader.

    Similarly, I'd stuff some bits of description into the next scene:

    “Hey,” some guy says, entering the room. “Morning.” He smiles sort of sweetly at me, and he has those sad-dog dark eyes that I always fall for. I’m no idiot, so I know what went down.

    “Hi,” I reply. I lie back down and stare at his ceiling. Cracked. Bugs in the lightshade. Cobwebs. Worse than my place. “I’m sorry, but I don’t remember your name.”

    He steps over a heap of laundry to get to the bed and sits down, looking at me like he’s sort of uncomfortable. “Brett,” he says, laughing a little.


    Or:

    “Hey,” some guy says, entering the room. “Morning.” He smiles sort of sweetly at me, and he has those sad-dog dark eyes that I always fall for, along with a hundred-dollar haircut. I’m no idiot, so I know what went down.

    “Hi,” I reply. I lie back down and stare at his ceiling. Pseudo-vintage plaster work. A designer fixture that probably cost more than my car. The pillow under my head feels like goosedown and smells like lavender. Huh. “I’m sorry, but I don’t remember your name.”
     
  4. Dante Dases
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    Dante Dases Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're looking for critique, the only place to put it is the Writing Workshop. Please put your work there and not elsewhere.
     
  5. neuropsychopharm
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    neuropsychopharm Active Member

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    My apologies!
     
  6. Teodor Pravický
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    Teodor Pravický Senior Member

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    I think the setting should be done always in most necessery way, so if you need it there for some reason, you put it there. Like description of beautiful yellow flowers, because some chick is growing up them or they smell good and somebody stopped to take a breath.

    I remember when I tried to read my first book back in school. I didn't know what exactly I should remember to not get lost and it took a while use to read stuff that doesn't make any sense only just to get some kind of feeling from the writer that is jerking off
     

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