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Book: The Writer's Setting Descriptions Action Book by Rayne Hall

Book: The Writer's Setting Descriptions Action Book by Rayne Hall

categories: Book, Creative Writing, Novel Writing, Writing Descriptions, Fiction Settings, Workbook, Fiction Writing


Rayne Hall

Author Rayne Hallabout this book: This is a practical workbook for writers. Take it with you on your journeys, and use it to fill waiting time constructively. Build up a collection of setting descriptions which will stand you in good stead later when you need to describe places.

I created this book for myself, as a practical alternative to carrying photocopies or printouts with me. I use it a lot in my fiction writing.

Please note: this book is available only in paperback format.


1. General impressions of the place.

2. What noises are in this place? Try to find at least four. More are better. Describe each, using verbs. Listen especially to background noises; these characterise the place.

3. Two or more smells. Just list them; no need for description.

4. A small visual detail which most people would overlook but which is somehow characteristic of the place.

5. A signpost, notice, advertising poster, framed picture, announcement or warning sign (or several).

6. A brief description of the floor, ground or carpet.

7. A brief creative description of the ceiling or sky.

8. What's the weather like? How does it feel on the skin?

9. The source and quality of the light (where does the light come from? How bright is it, what colour?) Aim to convey the mood/atmosphere of the place. If appropriate, also include a sentence in which the light gives a clue to the time of the day.

10. Something incongruous—something which seems out of place.

11. If appropriate, describe a person who is part of the setting (an attendant or customer, perhaps). How is s/he dressed? How does s/he move? Watch especially the posture, the facial expression and repeated movements.

12. If people are present, overheard snippets of conversation—just brief phrases.

13. The colours of two things, creatively described.

14. One or several similes, comparing something in this place to something outside the place. For example '... looks like...', '...sounds like...', ' ... smells like ... ', '... as big as...', '... as if ... ', '... slower than ... ', '...reminds me of...'

15. A door. What does the door look like? How does it sound when it opens? How does it sound when it closes?

16. A plant. (Flowers drooping in a vase? Brambles overgrowing the garden? Tulips standing like soldiers in orderly rows? A shrub clinging to the cliff face?)

17. An animal. (Dead fly on the windowsill? Fat spider dangling from the ceiling? Owl hooting in the distance? Fat sheep grazing in the valley? Dogs chasing one another?)

18. Touch. How something feels when you touch it with your hand. (e.g. is the doorknob cold, warm, rough, smooth, sticky?)

19. Taste. Describe how something tastes—but only if it's relevant to the setting, for example, when describing a pub or coffee shop.

20. Anything else.

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