Description is to your story what a basement is to a house: a foundation on which to build the main structure. In the case of writing fiction, the main structure, of course, is the story of what happens to your protagonist and antagonist. But this story must rest in a setting that orients it, grounds it, and defines it.
One of the first things we need to establish when writing a story is the setting. Where does this story take place? In what country? In what time period? In what building? In what room of that building? What is in that room in terms of physical objects? What is in that room in terms of atmosphere or mood?
When writing description, use as many of the five senses as you can. In fiction writing, life is in the details. Picture your setting as clearly as you can. Use actual photographs of places, whether you’ve been there or not. In his classic novel, Remembrance of Things Past, French novelist Marcel Proust evokes an atmosphere in his famous scene of the madeleine. Through his magnificent use of the olfactory sense, he transports the reader back to a time in his childhood and evokes an atmosphere that stirs the soul.
As you write your story, pay close attention to description. If you get the foundation right, the rest of your story will be much more solid and strong.
What are some techniques you use to build your story foundation?
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