It’s in the Details, Baby!

Have you ever read a book and been confused because details don’t line up? When this happens it makes the reader work too hard to understand the book so they quit reading. Developing the setting details for a book is simple if you put the details on paper before you start writing.

Jersey City NJ 1990s

Jersey City NJ 1990s (Photo credit: davecito)

Details to Include:

Design and Map the City Your Story Takes Place In

  • Include roads, stores, parks, offices and any other important places to your storyline.
  • Add colors and details within each area if you place your character within these locations for a scene.
Autumn Colours (Fall Colors) - Orange and Red ...

Autumn Colours (Fall Colors) – Orange and Red Tree Leaves (Photo credit: dbrooker1)



Detail Seasonal Changes

* Include flowers, Fall leaves, budding trees, snow, types of weather (hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.). In the summer make sure you don’t have Fall leaves crackling under foot or snow. Make sure flowers are blooming appropriately by season. Tulips wouldn’t be in bloom in August. Yes, I know some of this is obvious but it helps to write it down anyway.

Design and Map the Living Quarters of Your Characters

Home Planners Design T72296

Home Planners Design T72296 (Photo credit: MidCentArc)

  • Detail the layout of the home.
  • Describe what can be seen from the window and door of each room. For example, if I’m sitting in the Master Bedroom I can see the Hallway through the door and the top step of the stairway going to the main floor and the 6-panel oak Bathroom door on the left. The floor is old, thin oak floor boards and the walls of the Hallway are a slate gray color. From the window of that same room I can see the backyard, over the fence into the neighbor’s backyard and the back of the neighbor’s house. There are 2 oak trees and a maple tree and I would give the details of where in the yard those trees are.

Français : Une cannette de Coca-Cola italienne...

Regional Details

* List regional words for everyday items. For example, a soft drink is a soda in Wisconsin, a pop in Minnesota, and in the Southern part of the United States everything is a Coke…even if it’s root beer, orange, or another flavor. The machine people get a drink of water from at parks and schools is a drinking fountain in Minnesota and a bubbler in Wisconsin.
* Include slang that people commonly use in the region of your setting.

All of these details can be from an actual city or completely fabricated in your imagination. To make the setting of the story come through in your writing you need to understand and remember the details of your settings. Use these maps and notes as reference points as you write so the reader doesn’t need to work hard to enjoy your book.

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Filed under Writing

2 responses to “It’s in the Details, Baby!

  1. I’ve caught myself on the seasonal changes. They’re sneaky!

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