First, for those attempting to learn writing, a really interesting article on setting.
Personally, my advice is to make sure you have an opening chapter that doesn’t require pages of explanation (but does have some fantasy element/s, so people have some idea what they’re getting into). As your plot develops, your setting can do so too. But the first conflict must be simple.
Also, when you name places and people, make them (a) pronouncable (b) different – especially the first letter, and (c) generally, not too long. Otherwise readers will feel confused.
Ditto if you introduce more than about three names in the first chapter (which is where titles like “Ratu Island” or “Captain Sol” come in handy, because the name tells you who or what they are).
And, of course, go nuts on the sensory detail (something that I generally do in the second draft, after the story is fairly solid).
Today’s awesomeness mission was: “Go to one of those hippy shops and buy yourself something weird – a homeopath treatment, or some incense or a dreamcatcher or a reiki massage or whatever.”*
I ventured into “The Body Shop” for one simple reason: The smell. I like just walking past that shop, with its cloud of soap and candles and pretend-fruit perfume.
Instinct drew me unerringly to the free samples of body butter (scented moisturiser). Oh heck yeah. There were about twenty different OPEN pots for me to sample. I sniffed the shea butter, having always wondered what it smells like. (The answer: nothing.) I carefully avoided the chocolate scented one (why taunt myself?) and gleefully settled on “dark cherry”.
Don’t you love adjectives? We don’t paint our houses orange, but we might just paint them “burnt peach”. We don’t wear puce, but we’re tempted by “wild maroon”. We don’t even eat just icing-sugar filled chocolate, we eat “vanilla surprise”.
But I digress.
I discovered after generously lathering my hands with dark cherry that it smelled like cheap red lollies. Oh well. Imagine my disappointment when I then discovered the hemp-smelling body butter and my hands were already so packed with flavour I’d missed my chance to smell like pot.
I wasn’t that disappointed, actually. The hemp didn’t smell nearly as nice as pot does.
And on that note, we end today’s entry.
But wait – there’s more!
Yesterday I received some extremely exciting, highly unexpected news. I will tell you what it is on Sunday, but right now you may as well know that (a) I’m not pregnant (nor trying to be), and (b) it wasn’t anything to do with any of my books.
But it was huge. Giggle-hysterically-for-several-days kind of huge. It has even momentarily taken my mind of chocolate.
And, from http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_l2i1u42hR31qby2jko1_400.jpg, something wonderful:
*I confused this post with #12: Healing Stones, which is where this quote is from. Today’s actual mission – the one I did – was “Go to a shop like Lush and spend some time smelling everything. Then buy yourself a little treat.”
#12 is still to come.