Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to Prep for a Book, Step 6: Visualize Setting

This week is dedicated to preparing your novel before you start it, or “plotting.” The sixth step: visualize the setting.

Let’s say it’s October 31 and I already have my plot, my research, and my character sketches. Typically at this point, I start typing feverishly. When I’m done, I realize I didn’t say anything about the surroundings, the character’s faces, how things looked and smelt. I go back and add it in.

I wonder how my writing would change if before I wrote a scene, I took a moment to close my eyes and visualize as many details as I could. My guess is this would not only make the writing faster; it would also make it richer.

I’ve never tried this before. Should be fun.

My dear reader Matt Phillips left a comment that will really helpful to me when I start this:

"One thing I've done that's been helpful is to write up little "setting profiles." Kind of like character profiles, but centralizing all my research about a particular place in one document. 

"I don't do it for every location in the story, just major ones, like the towns the characters live in. They include maps I've found, who lived where and what their homes looked/felt/sounded/smelled like, major rivers/mountains, distances from one point to another, flora and fauna, daily life/customs, etc."

My book takes place in Africa, so it’ll be good for me to look at pictures, read descriptions, and get an over-all feel for the place. But your setting doesn’t have to be foreign for this step to be helpful. My last Nano book took place where I grew up, but I still had to think back on my memories to get a good picture of them.

If any of you have advice  for me and my readers about setting, feel free to comment!


  1. Ooh, where in Africa is it set? I lived in West Africa for five months and it's amazing.

    I look up pictures, Google maps, people's anecdotes, cultural websites, all sorts of things. I've even visited a few of the settings to get an in-person feel for it. I do as much as possible to make my setting not just LOOK real, but FEEL real too.

  2. Kenya... I can't believe I didn't think to ask you about Africa! You will be getting an email from me shortly.


I love hearing from my readers!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...