"A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings but a cat does not." -Ernest Hemingway

Monday, February 28, 2011

What Do Settings Have To Do With The Emotion of Your Story?

[The distant rumbling of the thunderous night wakes her from her silent dream of sunning under swaying coconut palms while a pair of faceless hands gently covered her body in warm tanning oil.  She opens her eyes slowly to the pitch blackness when a crackling bolt of lightning suddenly lights up the room and the pair of dark soulless eyes sinking its sharp cold fangs into her neck, covering her body in warm soothing blood.]

Choosing the right words is an important technique for any author to learn because it is the building block to creating well crafted settings.  Each setting has its own mood and making them descriptive is key to each one individually joining together to convey the emotion of your story.  Maybe you've created unforgettable characters and even have added interesting and meaningful dialogue, but without detailed descriptive settings your characters will just be floating around inside an empty vacuum.

Let’s explore by taking the above setting and take out the descriptive details: 

     [The rainy night awakens her and when she opens her eyes a bolt of lightning lights up the dark room and a pair of eyes sinking its fangs into her neck.]

Sure we know it’s a rainy night and she gets bitten by a vampire, but how boring!  What’s the one thing lacking?  That’s right, mood.  We can’t tell it’s a stormy night filled with lightning, we don’t know she was having a sensual dream or when she’s bitten by the dark creature of the night it too is sensual. 

So the next time you find yourself struggling with a scene not conveying the mood you want try looking for ways in which you can add more detail to the description of the setting.  Just remember it is important to carefully choose words which will color the setting to match the mood. 

Next week, we’re going to explore how the mood of each setting also plays a role in conveying the theme of your story. 

Until then,

Keep on thriving, keep on striving and keep on writing!

T.K. Millin
The Unknown Author      


  1. Hmm... Interesting post... I tend to be choosy when it comes to descriptions... I don't like too many, and avoid too little. I agree with you - the description of the setting is connected to the emotion of the story.

  2. I LOVE this! Great points. I want to remember this as I read back through my YA and tune it up ;)

    I'm following from Book Blogs.


  3. Thank you EC Writes for the positive feedback! When you have time I hope my post The Secret Art of Rewriting can help too! Best of luck on your YA I can't wait to learn more about it!