1. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Scene-Setting in the Opening

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by B-Gas, Mar 24, 2010.

    My story begins on a blasted road, high in the Guardian mountains along the north edge of Whitehill. The air is punishingly cold up there. A lone cart rumbles its way along this road, jolting over the cracks and pockmarks left by the War of Three. Well, calling it a "cart" is hardly a fair description. It's more akin to a jail cell on wheels, made of thick, reinforced wood with two small windows that let in the cold but keep most of the light out. Two people sit on the outside of this heavy carriage. One, a grizzled old man with a thin grey beard, dressed in thick furs; the other, a young girl with a leather helmet and an oversized crossbow. She clutches the crossbow to her chest and closes her eyes against another wintry gust of mountain air. The oxen plod solemnly on, heedless of the cold, towing their dangerous cargo behind them.

    This isn't the actual opening to my story, but I'd like to know whether this is enough information, too much, not enough, or what details could be omitted or added without ruining it.

    How do you set the scene in the first part of a novel? How much scene needs to be set?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This is information I would withhold at the beginning. I would focus on the two people on the cart, and the brutal conditions they are enduring. The mention of the War of Three is tantalizing, and the way you tie it in to the condition of the road fits well with the observable conditions.

    I would decide immediately whose POV that opening scene is writen from. That decision will shape how you write the scene.
     
  3. boesjwoelie
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    boesjwoelie Member

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    I like it like this, I only wonder who is inside the cart. But it is up to you if you reveal that or not of course :p

    second that ^^
     
  4. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    How important is this location going to be in the rest of the story? Steinbeck opened East of Eden with a long description of the Salinas valley, and Keillor opened Lake Wobegon Days with a long description of the town of Lake Wobegon, but they worked because in each case the location served rather as a character in its own right; the location was what the story was about. If this is just a place the characters are passing through, then get on with the characters and the action, not the place. Similarly with the War of Three. Will the War of Three matter in the story? It's a good teaser, but only if you're going to deliever on it later.

    There's nothing wrong with working out all this setting; rather, it's a good thing, but it doesn't necessarily go into the story. Knowing it helps you know how your characters feel, how they react, and helps make that believable.
     
  5. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    All righty. Thanks for the help, everyone. Cut the Google Earth location, choose a POV. Will do.

    Why is it always the basic things that need to be retaught? I can never understand it...
     

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