Tag Archives: Writing techniques

Describing setting in novels.

I’ve been thinking lately about setting: that is, how we describe the place where the action in our novel is happening. Think of the things your character can observe about a place.


What color are the walls? What color is the furniture? Is it old or new, does to belong to  a certain period? Has the place been recently renovated? What are the floor coverings? Are they new, worn, threadbare, or old fashioned? Are there any bench tops? What surface do they have – Formica, wooden, aluminium, granite? Is the place clean, dusty, dirty, disorganized, or neat? What are the light fittings like? Remember, when describing something visual, it’s not just colors; it’s also shiny or dull, rough or smooth.

Are there any smells? Of food? Of cleaning products?

What does your character feel about this place? Does it bring back memories of some pleasant or unpleasant experience? Name three feelings that things in this place might evoke.


If you’re in a back yard or front yard, is it neat or unkempt, are the plants healthy or dehydrated, are there weeds? What season is it and is your description consistent with that? Does the ground slope, and what’s the texture underfoot as your character walks? Smooth, sloping, uneven, sand, concrete, gravel?

In public places, how many people are there? Are there shops you wouldn’t expect there? Have they changed since the last time your character was there? What can our character hear? Is it pleasant or unpleasant? What can they smell? Petrol fumes? Cooking from a food outlet?

What does your character fell about this place? Irritation about the noise or the smells? Do they feel safe here? Name three feelings that things in this place might evoke in your character.

If anyone has more things they include please leave a comment.

A great article on describing watery scenes by Sharla Rae is at http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/place-descriptions-part-two-waterways/#comments

For those new to this Blog, my email is snowinmelbourne@hotmail.com and on twitter I’m @Richard_A_Snow.  Best wishes. Richard Snow