Show Me: Adding Color to Settings

I will be to first to admit that adding depth to my settings is not one of my strong suits. I get caught up in the dialogue, and the action, and making sure that I have some nice foreshadowing, that I forget to mention just where my characters happen to me. This is a failing that my peer editor has pointed out to me with the dedication and brutality of a surgeon declaring that operation is necessary for life.

The problem is not that I can’t picture the setting; I can see it perfectly clear in my head. My problem comes from thinking that I have described the room/battlefield/what-have-you adequately in one sentence and move on to what I consider more important matters. What I leave for the readers is nothing more substantial than a vague, 5-year-old’s watercolor of a setting where my characters appear to be floating… skeletal, obscure, and leaving too much blank.

What’s wrong with that? When it comes to my writing, you can see an imbalance between the detail I go into with the characters and the world they live in. I work hard to make the characters believable, but if the setting doesn’t come up to par with the characters, it becomes distracting. So my words of advice are these: be generous with your scene description. I have to make an effort to write what I feel is too much in order to get adequate amounts of color in my picture. After all, you can always trim it in editing!

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