#WritingTips: Use Setting to Enhance Body Language

 In Books, Writing

I ’ve blogged about how setting can become an integral part of the action in a novel, as well as creating or sustaining mood.

I love well-crafted descriptions, portending doom or gloom as a backdrop to catastrophic events.

But sometimes terrible happenings stand out more tragically in alluring scenes with crashing waves, panoramic sunsets, and lush foliage.  Kona, Hawaii is this setting for my novel, Invitation to Death, where two people die and one near death occurs, orchestrated by a woman in her quest for revenge.

As writers, it’s our job to make setting come to life. There are many ways of doing that, including integrating action into setting.

But here’s another idea.

Why not use setting to aid the reader in getting to know your characters?  A character can verbally describe her environment and/or body language can speak volumes to give readers clues on the setting.

For example:

Couple # 1.  While driving on a scenic route into a secluded state park, Beth’s husband, Ed, points to clumps of birch, rows of white pine, towering oak, and three different varieties of maple trees.  He stops the car, jumps out, and then holds the door open for Beth.  She shakes her head, gives a shudder, and reaches for a handkerchief to cover her mouth and nose, muttering something about decay, grime, and allergies.

Couple # 2.  She lingers, unable to tear herself away from the nicknacks in a small, musky shop crowded with old clocks, and Victorian figurines and jewelry.  Her husband glances out the window to the ice cream shop across the street. He slips his cell phone out of his pocket, checks the time, and slumps onto old church bench.

Do you see how setting enhances physical qualities, perceptions, attitudes? How it can enhance body language?

Give it a try. Your writing will be better for it!

(Photos of Kona, Hawaii from TripAdvisor)


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