Setting #3 – Let’s go somewhere different

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Alas, my own brick of a laptop is far too heavy and lasts all of 1 hour, if I’m lucky. Image from Wikimedia Commons

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See other Writing Exercises from this blog.

I’m being quite literal with the title of this post – let’s actually go somewhere freaking different this week!

I’m serious, go somewhere with your pen and paper, or your portable device of choice (I have a 7-year-old brick of a laptop that can’t go an hour without juice, so I’ll go for the paper option). Go somewhere you don’t usually go, or better yet somewhere you’ve never been.

I want you to describe the scene around you, using as many of the five senses as you can. You can write this ‘in character’ by imagining one of your story characters is in the location, describing it as they’d see it, or you can do a straight-up description of the scene in your own words, without worrying about connecting it to a narrative. It’s really up to you.

I’ll refer to an example of my own work where I really did go to the location described to set the scene:


Daniel walked along the stony path before the temple. The doors of the main shrine were open as he passed before them, allowing a glimpse of a golden Buddha with colorful paper lanterns hung above his head. Daniel stepped on the low stone stair just outside the frame, a sharp sandalwood scent filling his lungs as he examined a bowl with sticks of incense set just before the Buddha. No different than a one–night stand? No. Of course I won’t do it. Shaking his head, he turned away from the Buddha, walking around the small pond set into the center of the stony ground before the temple. He allowed himself a last look at the peaceful place before descending the tree–lined path down the mountain.


That temple is based on Cheonbulsa, a temple that’s five minutes from my house. I had my character Daniel stand outside the temple and describe it, though I admit, there could have been more senses involved. I got smell and some sights in there, but I could go all out and get the clacking of the wooden bells, or the feel of smooth, worn wood under your feet after you remove your shoes to meditate in the temple.

For Thursday, I’ll go somewhere I don’t normally go and try a similar scene-setting piece. I encourage you to do the same!