2 added 385 characters in body
source | link

You almost certainly want to avoid a shopping list of details about the park. You're not describing the wind and the trees and the building and... You're describing one unified moment in space and time.

You want to focus on what the reader needs to know for the story to make sense (he needs to know the scene is in a park, and not in out of space; if there's going to be anything happening in or around the park's pond, you want the reader to be aware that the pond exists), and on what you can use to create atmosphere (this scene is going to be calm and serene, like the park; or: the park is wilting and poorly-kept, emphasizing the story's squalor and disorder).

There must be millions of ways to describe setting, but a simple one is this: start with an establishing shot; one or two clear sentences that tell the reader where the scene takes place, and maybe touches upon the mood. Then pick two or three details that are easiest for you to use for both of the goals I mentioned (e.g. you choose the pond because it's important to the location, and you describe it as being peaceful and smooth because that's the atmosphere you want to convey). Since the establishing shot has conveyed the most immediate and crucial information, these details won't be confusing, and can be mentioned in any order - unless one of those details is unusual ("the pond was smooth, the trees swayed in the wind, and the hieroglyphic-covered merry-go-round tinkled a jolly tune" - you want unusual details first, just as a person's attention would be drawn to them) or particularly important to the plot (in which case you want to prevent the reader from skimming over it).

Another way is to go the opposite route - focus on one small detail, and ripple outwards from there, explaining how that one detail ties in with important elements of the larger setting.

The important thing here is to understand there's no "right order," because you're not filling out a list. You're conveying an experience; the correct order is whatever conveys the experience best. That might be "the experience of entering the park and looking around," or it might be "the experience of looking for a restful spot away from that hideous museum," or "the experience of being chased through a museum by radioactive zombies". Each of these will describe the setting differently, focusing on different details, and in a different order. If you don't know what experience your description is trying to convey, then stop and figure it out - if you don't know why the reader should be interested in your description, then he probably won't be.

Edited to add: A helpful and easy exercise: choose a few setting descriptions in books you've enjoyed. See if you can list the "order" the author describes different details in, within each description. See if you understand the structure the author's chosen for that description - and why it's a good fit for that scene. I suspect you'll find some very interesting techniques.

You almost certainly want to avoid a shopping list of details about the park. You're not describing the wind and the trees and the building and... You're describing one unified moment in space and time.

You want to focus on what the reader needs to know for the story to make sense (he needs to know the scene is in a park, and not in out of space; if there's going to be anything happening in or around the park's pond, you want the reader to be aware that the pond exists), and on what you can use to create atmosphere (this scene is going to be calm and serene, like the park; or: the park is wilting and poorly-kept, emphasizing the story's squalor and disorder).

There must be millions of ways to describe setting, but a simple one is this: start with an establishing shot; one or two clear sentences that tell the reader where the scene takes place, and maybe touches upon the mood. Then pick two or three details that are easiest for you to use for both of the goals I mentioned (e.g. you choose the pond because it's important to the location, and you describe it as being peaceful and smooth because that's the atmosphere you want to convey). Since the establishing shot has conveyed the most immediate and crucial information, these details won't be confusing, and can be mentioned in any order - unless one of those details is unusual ("the pond was smooth, the trees swayed in the wind, and the hieroglyphic-covered merry-go-round tinkled a jolly tune" - you want unusual details first, just as a person's attention would be drawn to them) or particularly important to the plot (in which case you want to prevent the reader from skimming over it).

Another way is to go the opposite route - focus on one small detail, and ripple outwards from there, explaining how that one detail ties in with important elements of the larger setting.

The important thing here is to understand there's no "right order," because you're not filling out a list. You're conveying an experience; the correct order is whatever conveys the experience best. That might be "the experience of entering the park and looking around," or it might be "the experience of looking for a restful spot away from that hideous museum," or "the experience of being chased through a museum by radioactive zombies". Each of these will describe the setting differently, focusing on different details, and in a different order. If you don't know what experience your description is trying to convey, then stop and figure it out - if you don't know why the reader should be interested in your description, then he probably won't be.

You almost certainly want to avoid a shopping list of details about the park. You're not describing the wind and the trees and the building and... You're describing one unified moment in space and time.

You want to focus on what the reader needs to know for the story to make sense (he needs to know the scene is in a park, and not in out of space; if there's going to be anything happening in or around the park's pond, you want the reader to be aware that the pond exists), and on what you can use to create atmosphere (this scene is going to be calm and serene, like the park; or: the park is wilting and poorly-kept, emphasizing the story's squalor and disorder).

There must be millions of ways to describe setting, but a simple one is this: start with an establishing shot; one or two clear sentences that tell the reader where the scene takes place, and maybe touches upon the mood. Then pick two or three details that are easiest for you to use for both of the goals I mentioned (e.g. you choose the pond because it's important to the location, and you describe it as being peaceful and smooth because that's the atmosphere you want to convey). Since the establishing shot has conveyed the most immediate and crucial information, these details won't be confusing, and can be mentioned in any order - unless one of those details is unusual ("the pond was smooth, the trees swayed in the wind, and the hieroglyphic-covered merry-go-round tinkled a jolly tune" - you want unusual details first, just as a person's attention would be drawn to them) or particularly important to the plot (in which case you want to prevent the reader from skimming over it).

Another way is to go the opposite route - focus on one small detail, and ripple outwards from there, explaining how that one detail ties in with important elements of the larger setting.

The important thing here is to understand there's no "right order," because you're not filling out a list. You're conveying an experience; the correct order is whatever conveys the experience best. That might be "the experience of entering the park and looking around," or it might be "the experience of looking for a restful spot away from that hideous museum," or "the experience of being chased through a museum by radioactive zombies". Each of these will describe the setting differently, focusing on different details, and in a different order. If you don't know what experience your description is trying to convey, then stop and figure it out - if you don't know why the reader should be interested in your description, then he probably won't be.

Edited to add: A helpful and easy exercise: choose a few setting descriptions in books you've enjoyed. See if you can list the "order" the author describes different details in, within each description. See if you understand the structure the author's chosen for that description - and why it's a good fit for that scene. I suspect you'll find some very interesting techniques.

1
source | link

You almost certainly want to avoid a shopping list of details about the park. You're not describing the wind and the trees and the building and... You're describing one unified moment in space and time.

You want to focus on what the reader needs to know for the story to make sense (he needs to know the scene is in a park, and not in out of space; if there's going to be anything happening in or around the park's pond, you want the reader to be aware that the pond exists), and on what you can use to create atmosphere (this scene is going to be calm and serene, like the park; or: the park is wilting and poorly-kept, emphasizing the story's squalor and disorder).

There must be millions of ways to describe setting, but a simple one is this: start with an establishing shot; one or two clear sentences that tell the reader where the scene takes place, and maybe touches upon the mood. Then pick two or three details that are easiest for you to use for both of the goals I mentioned (e.g. you choose the pond because it's important to the location, and you describe it as being peaceful and smooth because that's the atmosphere you want to convey). Since the establishing shot has conveyed the most immediate and crucial information, these details won't be confusing, and can be mentioned in any order - unless one of those details is unusual ("the pond was smooth, the trees swayed in the wind, and the hieroglyphic-covered merry-go-round tinkled a jolly tune" - you want unusual details first, just as a person's attention would be drawn to them) or particularly important to the plot (in which case you want to prevent the reader from skimming over it).

Another way is to go the opposite route - focus on one small detail, and ripple outwards from there, explaining how that one detail ties in with important elements of the larger setting.

The important thing here is to understand there's no "right order," because you're not filling out a list. You're conveying an experience; the correct order is whatever conveys the experience best. That might be "the experience of entering the park and looking around," or it might be "the experience of looking for a restful spot away from that hideous museum," or "the experience of being chased through a museum by radioactive zombies". Each of these will describe the setting differently, focusing on different details, and in a different order. If you don't know what experience your description is trying to convey, then stop and figure it out - if you don't know why the reader should be interested in your description, then he probably won't be.