Exercises, writing

Exercise: Setting Descriptions

Although it might seem like the easiest and simplest thing in the world, setting descriptions are full of pitfalls. Ever notice how every single beach is sandy when there are plenty of rock beaches? Or the ocean is always somehow salty and tangy? Living in the desert, I promise, the sun does a lot more than just beat on you unmercifully. In fact, you also have to contest with the wind, which can be arguably worse than the sun on occasion.

That being said, setting is one of the best places to involve your sensory details. Not just sight but taste, touch, sound, and smell.

As an exercise: Write 500 words on your setting, taking a hundred for each sense.

  • Sight
  • Taste
  • Touch
  • Sound
  • Smell

Think outside the box on this! Besides grains of sand from your beach, what else might your characters be feeling on their toes? What other ocean smells are hitting them? This is a good place to get in some research (and research is a good excuse for a vacation) if you’ve never been. Look up travel guides and conservation facts about areas you’d like to base your settings on. Find out details about specific environmental factors that would impact those senses.


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