Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll

On Setting

An interesting post over at Edittorrent got me thinking, as did the conversation I had with Alicia in the comments. The gist of the post is how can we best establish the reader within the world of the story in the first couple of paragraphs? I advise people to go and read the whole thing, though, because it's very interesting.

I made a couple of tweaks to the opening of Searching For Julia, based on the post and the feedback I got in the comments, but I'm still wondering about making more tweaks eventually.

What I have so far is:


She wanted to run away, to get as far from there as possible. Behind her Paul was being declared dead at the scene of the incident, covered up, and then lifted into the waiting ambulance. There would be an inquest, a funeral, a memorial service, and alongside those an investigation, an arrest, a trial and a sentence. Through it all, everyone would know what they had been planning. Keith would get home from the morning shift and find the note, before she could get away from here and destroy it. Even if, by some miracle, he didn't, Paul would have left a similar note for his wife, and there was no way to destroy that one. Not now.

Her clothes, and everything that she valued – everything she valued that wasn't Paul – were already in the back of Paul's car, ready for the tonight that would never come now, for the moment when she and Paul would have signed into a hotel together to celebrate the start of their new life together.

She could run away, slip away now while everyone was preoccupied with collecting evidence and witness statements, get into her car and drive far from here. The hotel was booked. She had a spare key to the boot of Paul's car, and no desire to go back to Keith right now, regardless of whether he knew what she and Paul had been planning.

The note would come in useful in that case. Everyone would know, but she wouldn't have to face them. Maybe they would be almost sympathetic, and wait for her to come back of her own accord. Except that she wouldn't be coming back. She had nothing to come back to if she left now.

She took one last look over her shoulder at the scene, then shouldered her way through the reporters already circling like vultures, and set off for the police station's car park.


So my dilemma is, and any changes may end up waiting until I've finished the first draft, should I make more mention of what's going on in the scene before I reach the final paragraph of the scene?

How about you? How deeply do you need to be immersed in the setting straight away? Can an author build setting equally effectively by feeding small details of it slowly?
Tags: for reference, on writing, story extract
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