Story setting is essential. It’s one of the elements that pulls readers into the story and places them there. Can you imagine what reading a story would be like if there wasn’t any description of the places in it? Flat, that’s what it would be….flat. I would cast it aside in a heartbeat.
How do we paint a picture of what we want our readers to see when they read your story? It really is up to the writer. I say this because we’re all different and have our own ways of doing things. So, take what you will from this post and make it yours. I like to create my settings in such a way, so that when someone reads it, it sounds natural. What I don’t want is for the action/story to stop so that I can describe something. Doing that takes away from the story. Note the two examples below.
Example 1: Laural stepped into the room with her bare feel. The room was white with plush carpet. White curtains hung on the windows and blew in the breeze. To the right of the window sat a small square table with a bright green tablecloth. In spite of the brightness of the room, she should have felt comforted, but no. There was an eeriness that made her feel uneasy. A lock of her blond hair fell forward and she moved to push it back. She stopped midway as she felt his finger along her cheek.
Example 2: Laural stepped into the white room. Now barefoot, she stepped onto the plush, white carpet. At one time this feeling would have comforted her, but today the cushion of the carpet only served to increase that eerie sensation twisting in her gut. White curtains billowed as the breeze from the open window whispered into the room. Again, a false sense of comfort played in her gut. It were as though the room was dark, not light. The only color in the room came from a plant sitting on a small square end table to the right of the open window. A single black rose stood dead center of a plant whose bright green heart shaped leaves came to thin tips. His calling card. A lock of blond hair pushed forward over her right shoulder. Moving her hand up to push it out of the way, she froze midway as his finger caressed her cheek. Her breath caught in her chest. She wanted to run, but her legs wouldn’t move.
“You look pale, my sweet,” he said.
In the first example the setting description does nothing to move the story along and it doesn’t create any kind of feeling either. We are told that Laural is feeling uneasy, but the description doesn’t heighten this feeling at all.
The second example combines description of the room with how Laural is feeling, which in turn goes along with the story.
When you’re writing, and get stuck on how to describe something, sit back and relax. Close your eyes and picture your setting or situation. Then, when you’re ready, describe it simply. When you’re done with that, embellish it to fit the story/scene. It takes practice.