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Friday Writing Prompt: Setting and Description

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Photo by Mike Tinnion on Unsplash

I like the idea of a creative writing prompt every Friday. I'll give it a whirl; let me know what you think. Feel free to send me what you've come up with but obviously, you don't have to. You can put it in the comments if you want people to discuss it.

Today, I'm inspired by a post from Laura van den Berg on Lit Hub to think about location and description. She gives a quote by Anne Enright: "All description is an opinion about the world." I love this quote. I always try to think about the setting from the protagonist's point of view.

Take a few minutes, both feet on the ground, to notice your surrounding. Start with what you see, but don't stop there. Listen to the sounds. Try to engage other senses: where is your body in space? What can your skin feel? Can you smell anything? Finally, come back to sight. I find that sometimes we look at things, but we don't really see them, especially if we're sat in a familiar place. Choose something to focus on: your desk, a plant, a photo, and look closely. Can you see textures? Gradients in colour? Something that you haven't realised was there?

Now, let's come back to the quote: "All description is an opinion about the world." Can you imagine that you're angry? Or sad? Or missing someone? How would what you notice change along with your mood? If you have a character and you're writing from her point of view, what does she notice? Does her background make her see something you wouldn't have? For instance, if she's a gardener, she would probably notice more details, or more specific details, about that plant. What would those be?

Bonus prompt: Laura talks about the vagueness/specificity of the description. Can your setting be anywhere? Or is it tied to a specific location? Can you tweak it to be the other way around?


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