The Jane Doe Novel Experiment

Creating Two New Novels. Writing One Chapter Weekly. Podcasting As I Go. Welcome to The Experiment.

Where Are We? What Must Happen in the 1st 10 pgs – Pt 3

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.

Writing Assignment

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.


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This entry was posted on July 23, 2012 by in For Writers and tagged , , , , , .

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