Hi SEers! Denise here to talk about story settings and poetry.
Have you ever read a book and come to a passage where the description is so beautiful you had to stop and reflect on it? I have many times. These are words so skillfully written that I can see the sun setting or the grime on the dirty city streets through the character’s eyes. It has brought me into that moment.
A poem can also create a beautiful setting through creative images and carefully chosen words.
In fact, when I see a wonderful setting in a story, I think how poetic.
I’ve found that writing poetry, and the settings in my stories have a lot in common. Both are trying to see a place in someone else’s eyes. They use vivid imagery, emotions, and creative words to capture the reader’s imagination.
A setting in a book is trying to bring the reader into the when, where, and mood. Is the man wearing comfortable jeans or a wool suit? Does he have shoes, and is it raining? Are the buildings tall and oppressive, or is he walking along a forest path? Does he see an abandoned house in the country or the city?
In a poem, you have fewer words to work with, so each word is important to provide a picture to the reader. It’s a good place to show emotion or a moment in time while experimenting with new vocabulary.
Both offer ways to capture a beautiful or dark detail and arrange words so it pulls the reader into it. A story that races along with no details about where the main character is or how being where they are could affect them creates a flat reading experience. A poem without feelings or images is dull and lifeless.
How do you capture all that emotion and imagery that makes you think, wow, that’s amazing?
- Where is this setting happening? City, mountains, desert, in the middle of the ocean, an office building, classroom, or on another planet?
- What’s the weather like? Is it foggy, sunny, raining, hot, or a pleasant spring day? This creates the mood of the setting in a book or poem.
- Use all the senses when writing. What does the character hear, feel, smell, taste, or see?
- Show everything! Don’t say it was a hot day; instead, show it through their thirst and sweating. Maybe the ground is too hot to walk on, or they sat on a hot car seat and burned their leg.
Here are examples of a setting in a poem and a setting that is poetic.
dense foggy evening
all the flowers closed tightly
as darkness descends
As the night grasped the day, Dara found each breath heavier than the next. The beautiful red flower petals protectively closed around their fragrant sweet nectar. She rocked slowly as the fog swirled in and captured her garden bed’s last visual. A shudder raced through her body, and she tugged the wool green-plaid blanket over her sunburnt legs. The gentle sway of the chair soothed her like her mother used to do so long ago—before it all started. She shut her eyes when the scream of a thousand deaths forced her to clasp her ears. Beyond the heavy mountain mist, there was evil darkness lurking in the forest.
Both examples show when, where, and what is going on. It offers an image of that moment and perhaps draws you in, and makes you wonder what’s next. The setting can support the story, much like a co-star in a movie does.
When writing a setting, or poem, you are painting a picture. Have you ever had a wow moment when reading? Do you use poetic settings in your stories?