Hi, my name is Janice Seagraves. I’m the author of Windswept Shores.
Today I would like to talk to you about “setting the scene” in your stories. Some people call it backdrop, background or setting.
I set my story on a deserted island in the Bahamas.
“How did you do that?” you might ask.
Easy, by finding out all that I could about the Bahamas, but not using all of it.
I can imagine your reaction, “Huh?”
Well, yes, we don’t want to over whelm our readers now do we?
I broke it down to this:
1. Color of sea—teal
2. Soil—sandy loam, sand, lots and lots of sand
3. I also had a cliff make entirely of sand stone, more sand!
4. What grows in the Bahamas?—anything that grows in a tropical area, including lots of fruit trees.
5. Fruit trees+fruit=food
6. Birds—sea birds including sea gulls
7. bird+eggs=food (just the eggs, mate)
8. Fish—tropical fish like what you’d see at your local pet store—puffer, lion fish, clown fish.
9. I used the name of a local sport fish—tarpon, it can get to be five feet in length. Fish=food
10. Shellfish—mussels, scallops, and conk=food
11. Dolphin (the mammal kind)—this is fun, they’re spotted!
13. I used descriptive words for the sea: ocean, waves, swells, and surf.
You get the idea. I mention the weather a lot in my story, until it becomes almost a secondary character.
Here’s how I set the scene in the first chapter:
Breathing hard, she flicked a glance at the teal-colored sea. She'd thought a vacation to the Bahamas would be the perfect getaway, would be a solution to the problems she and Jonathan had faced. She'd been wrong—dead wrong. Tears of grief filled her eyes. The never-ending crash of the waves on the beach and the cries of the seagulls seemed to mock her with the reminder she was utterly alone.
Here’s a bit about the weather:
She frowned at her small tent. I don’t really know him well enough to let him sleep in there with me, but what else am I going to do with him? “There’s enough room in my tent for two.”
“Megz, if you’re that uncomfortable I can sleep out here by the fire with the mossies,” he offered. Right on cue, it started to rain. “I don’t suppose you have another tent?”
“That’s the only one that won’t shred in a stiff breeze. I had to make an A-frame around it to make sure it held together. We’ll just have to make do. Give me a moment.” Kicking off her sandals, she slipped inside the tent.
And more with the weather:
The pelting rain filled the silence between them. The tent sides heaved in the stiff breeze. Megan stretched-out on her own small pallet.
He asked, “Ready to catch some Z's?”
Megan turned her small pillow over several times, trying to find the perfect position for sleeping. There never was one. She finally settled. “Yes, unless you want to talk or tell stories?”
“Shall I tell you a yarn?”
“What kind of story would you like to tell?” she asked, turning to face him.
“It’s something we did at home. I’ll tell a story that may be true or it might not be. That's for you to work out.”
“Kind of like truth or dare?” She tucked her arm under her head. The pillow still didn’t feel comfortable. “Can you tell me about Australia?”
Thunder boomed outside.
Megan jumped. That sounded really close, I hate lightning storms. Maybe Seth's story will take my mind off of it.
Okay, now I’ve set the scene. The rest of the story is basically camping out. Growing up my dad really-really liked to fish, so I’ve been literally camping since I was a baby. In fact I almost born at a camp site, but that’s another story.
But it does give me the experience of living out of doors, which is what my characters do in Windswept Shores.
“Great. Follow me.” She pushed aside a bush as she continued up a rise.
Seth followed, leaning heavily on the stick while he watched the sway of her behind. Her meager campsite was neatly laid out; the paths lined with large shells and stones. To one side a tiny fire blazed, a pot with a fitted lid peeked out from a nest of coals giving a delicious aroma that teased his nose.
“A camp-oven? I haven’t seen one of those in years. What’s ever ya got in there has to be tasty.” He salivated. His gaze settled on a small A-frame made from lashed palm logs. Then he noticed a zippered closure. “That’s not a tent is it?”
She glanced at the shelter. “We had a few scientists on the plane with us. They had intended to transverse the cays, camping on the beaches while they studied the flora and fauna. Lucky for me their supplies washed ashore. That’s what has helped me survive these past two weeks.”
“Megz, you’re amazing.”
After the scene is set then we can write our story.
Janice’s website: http://janiceseagraves.org/
Janice’s main blog: http://ladyjanice.blogspot.com/
Windswept Shores buy link: http://pinkpetalbooks.com/Windswept-Shores-Janice-Seagraves.html