Setting a Scene…

I read a lot of books.  Some good, some bad, some sappy, some funny, you get the point.  I want to offer up some advice on how to set your scene.  For me, I love when an author puts me into the scene, just by describing everything.  Using their 5 senses.  What do I see?  What do I hear?  What do I smell? What do I taste?  What can I touch or what is touching me?  Not every sense needs to be used.

Let’s try.

In another picture, muddy footprints are seen leaving leading from the shower and out of the bathroom

What do you see?  Bloody footprints.

What do you smell?  Blood?  What about soap?

What do you hear?  Dripping water from the tap.  Water running down the drain.

what do you taste?  Metalic taste of blood in the air.

what do you feel?  what is the atmosphere like.

 

I realized something was amiss in my apartment when the door was ajar.  It was like I forgot to pull the door shut when I left for work.  No one kicked it down, so I saw no reason to be concerned.  Most people would phone the police and have them check out the apartment.  Not me.  Oh no, not me.  I barged right in as quietly as I could, so I could catch the criminal in the act.

Slinking into my tiny loft apartment I could see everything, but the bathroom.  Nothing was out of place.  The big-screen TV was still there, my books were on the bookshelf, the pillows were on the couch.  I was confused.  If someone broke in, what did they want?  What did they take?  I had nothing.  And maybe that was it.  I had nothing for them to take, so they left.

Then I smelled the metallic tang of blood in the air.  I should have turned around, I should have called the police, I should have left the apartment.  So many things I should have done.  Standing in the entryway I wait and listen.  There is the drop and splash of the water from the bathroom shower.  Did someone get a shower?  Is someone still here?

Nothing.  I hear nothing, but the cadence of the dripping water.  Quietly I step into the living room and ease towards the bathroom.  Silence.  Not even the hum from the fridge.  Just the dripping and splash.  Stepping closer to the bathroom door I lean in and listen.  No sound of movement.

What is going on?

Quickly I push the door open.  My white bathroom is empty.  The vanity mirror isn’t fogged up from a recent hot shower.  I can’t smell any soap in the air.  I do smell the blood again and then I jerk my eyes to the tiled floor.

Tracing the steps back to the tub, there is blood dotted on the edge.  They must have hurt themselves, but where is the bloody towel they used to clean up their foot?  None.  Stepping back I survey the hardwood floor around me. Bloody footprints that lead right to the spot where I’m standing!  Right here, but no further!  Nothing on the hardwood floor.  Not even a drop of water.

 

Ok, now here are some changes –

 

What do you see?  Bloody footprints.

What do you smell?  Blood? What about soap?  

What do you hear?  Dripping water from the tap.  Water running down the drain.

What do you taste?  The metallic taste of blood in the air.

What do you feel?  What is the atmosphere like?  

 

I realized something was amiss in my apartment when the door was ajar.  It was like I forgot to pull the door shut when I left for work. No one kicked it down, so I saw no reason to be concerned.  Most people would call the police and have them check out the apartment.  Not me. Oh no, not me. I barged right in as quietly as I could, so I could catch the criminal in the act.  Do you grab a nearby baseball bat or a golf club? is the narrator nervous or ready to fight? describe their emotion

Slinking into my tiny loft apartment, I could see everything, but the bathroom.  Nothing was out of place. The big-screen TV was still there, my books were on the bookshelf, the pillows were on the couch.  I was confused. If someone broke in, what did they want? What did they take? I had nothing. And maybe that was it. I had nothing for them to take, so they left. 

Then I smelled the metallic tang of blood in the air.  I should have turned around, I should have called the police, I should have left the apartment.  So many things I should have done. Standing in the entryway, I wait and listen. There is the drop and splash of the water from the bathroom shower.  Did someone get a shower? Is someone still here?  

Nothing.  I hear nothing, but the cadence of the dripping water.  Quietly, I step into the living room and ease towards the bathroom.  Silence. Not even the hum from the fridge. Just the dripping and splash.  Stepping closer to the bathroom door, I lean in and listen. No sound of movement. 

What is going on?

Quickly, I push the door open.  My white bathroom is empty. The vanity mirror isn’t fogged up from a recent hot shower.  I can’t smell any soap in the air. I do smell the blood again and then I jerk my eyes to the tiled floor.  

Tracing the steps back to the tub, there is blood dotted on the edge.  They must have hurt themselves, but where is the bloody towel they used to clean up their foot?  None. Stepping back, I survey the hardwood floor around me. Bloody footprints that lead right to the spot where I’m standing!  Right here, but no further! Nothing on the hardwood floor. Not even a drop of water. 

=====

Comments: 

  • Avoid starting sentences with “It” and “There”
  • Maintain an Active voice as much as possible. Search for “was” or “is” throughout the piece and change the verb. i.e. “was walking” to “walked”
  • Avoid crutch words: look, feel/felt, saw/see, notice, seems/seems to, nearly, appear, as though, beginning to, shrug, slightly, almost, a bit, very, just, heard, really, definitely, certainly, probably, actually, basically, virtually, rather, quite, somehow, touch, wonder, realize, watch, smell. Mix it up a bit. 
  • Watch duplicating the same word within the same sentence/paragraph.

 

Happy

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