Setting the Mood

Outtakes 402

Setting the Mood

By Cait Collins


The place is important in the setting, but it also needs to create a connection to the characters and the situation.  For example is the location a sleepy village or a bustling city?  Are the citizens staunch conservatives or progressives.  Are there multiple churches and faiths, or just a few houses of worship?  Is it a comfortable atmosphere, or are there tense under currents?

How would you describe the downtown architecture:  modern, traditional, or colonial?  Do you feel a sense of history?  Are there historic statues in the parks?  Are there markers providing facts about the events or the sites?  Are there parades on Memorial Day or Veterans’ Day?  What about the 4th of July?

As your protagonist walks the streets, do the citizens greet him or ignore him?  Are the people divided between the haves and have nots?’  Who’s the money man?

With these choices in mind, write the opening paragraph of your novel or short story.

Twilight settled softly on the dusty town.  A gentle breeze moved the leaves and dirt across the weathered boards of the sidewalk.  Stanton stepped down the two wooden steps and on to the concrete road. He’d been in town for two days and no one except the waitress in the diner had said “Hi” to him.  Burnett, Texas was just like him mother had described, dirty, depressing, and dead.

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