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Similar exercises

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Describe Your Surroundings

We've all read about the grey autumn day, the crisp spring morning, the dewey summer evening. Flex your descriptive muscles by spending some time writing about your surroundings. Look for new, interesting, evocative ways to explain the world around you. For instance, instead of writing, "a breeze blew in through the open window, try, "papers fluttered in the gust that swept in through the window, throwing dust into the air like confetti."

Establishing The Background

Think of some information your readers will need to learn to understand the story. This could be technical information or character backstory. Now write an argument between two characters in which you use conflict to share this information.

The Observant Writer

Elegant writers use their material with economy. If they write a scene that introduces a character, they might slip in many other things that are also important, whether it's a detail about Character A's birthday, Character A's relationship with Character B, or the weather. In this exercise, write a paragraph of no more than 300 words and try to fit in ten subtle facts about your character into it, without being obvious about it.

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Consider the World View

When describing your setting, consider who's looking at it as well as what they see. For example, an ex-con is likely to view (and describe) a restaurant hosting a police officer's retirement party differently than the daughter of the retiring officer. Take the point-of-view-character's world view and personal judgment into consideration. What details would they specifically notice? How would they feel about what they see? What emotions or thoughts might those details trigger? This allows you to craft richer settings that reflect both the character, and the world they live in.

The Art of Description

A few well-chosen words can create a strong sense of place which adds a rich dimension to your story. It draws your reader right in, as if they were in the room with your characters.Choose one of the following places and describe it using ALL of your five senses (touch, taste, sight, smell, hearing). In fiction, you won't usually use all five, but limbering up your storytelling this way will help you show rather than tell the story:

  1. A market in the South of France
  2. A teenage bedroom
  3. A pub
  4. A hairdresser's salon
  5. The souk in Marrakesh
  6. A stately home
  7. A garden

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