Last year two friends and I, writing under the name of the Moving Dragons, published an anthology of some of our work. I wrote mostly stories, Richard Kefford wrote stories, geological pieces and poems, John Watts wrote mostly poems and some humorous and sci-fi stories. It was such an exciting and enjoyable experience, that we are going to repeat it, together with our friend Gillian Peall; this time however we are going to have a theme of location, where we live now, where we have lived, places which are meaningful to us. As three of us live in Somerset, no doubt that varied county will feature largely in our work!
Writing about location, or setting a scene in a location is something I don’t feel I am very good at. I am not sure I bring the location I am describing to life; however, because I am aware of that, I do really try to use different senses in order to convey scenes, and not just in great chunks but more subtly, weaving description in and out of the story.
In my little guide to writing, ‘So You Want To Write’ I have a chapter on settings and location –
Make your reader see where they are; use verbs, adjectives, similes, metaphors… all the tools which bring language alive in the reader’s mind. Use all the senses but use them with discrimination, use colour, describe sounds, perfumes, aromas. It does not have to be a long description, a few well-chosen words or phrases can trigger an image in your reader’s mind.
The setting is not just the physical location although that is very important. The setting is also when it happened. Is it now? Is it in the future? In the past? You don’t always need dates, use famous events to place your story in its time. You can use more subtle clues, for example your characters using old technology, listening to a certain type of music, wearing a particular costume.
This is going to be a real challenge but I am sure we will rise to it! However, then we have to think what we are going to call this volume, volume II by the Moving Dragons!