Creating Two New Novels. Writing One Chapter Weekly. Podcasting As I Go. Welcome to The Experiment.
The Lesson – Physical
You wake up in an unknown area. Among the first things you will most likely try to figure out is where you are.
It’s the same with your readers. They need to know where the story is taking place. Are the people in your story floating around in dark space? It will appear that way if you don’t ground them somewhere solid.
This can be as easy as saying, “The two sat on the couch to talk”. The reader is somewhere solid. There are only so many places a couch can be. Home? Office? Room? Outside in the snow? Of course, if it’s that last one, that may be worth mentioning early on or creatively hinting throughout the character’s dialogue before it’s made clear.
It’s not necessary to give full-page descriptions for each and every new location down to what diameter the door knobs are. Be as creative as you desire or as plain as the situation calls for, but the reader should not feel that everyone in your story is floating into each other in outer space.
The Lesson – Abstract
Another point of, “where is the character” can also imply mind-set and mood. “Where are they?” mentally, emotional, etc?
It’s one thing to say, “The old house creaked.” It’s another to say, “The creaks from the old house sounded amplified now that her children were all grown up and moved out.”
“Where” is this character? The first example tells us she’s in an old house. The second tells us that physically she is in an old house. Emotionally, she may be lonely. We know “where” the character is both physically and emotionally.
First, take your WIP and mark the first sentence that gives your reader a clue to where your character is located. If this sentence does not appear early – meaning, your characters having been talking and running around in space for a while – you may want to move it up.
Second, see if those sentences simply refer to the physical. If so, try to make two of them also refer to the emotional and/or mental state of your character for a more engaging sentence.