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Writing Vivid Settings: Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors

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Do you want your readers to feel like they're really there—in the place where the story happens? Whether you want to enrich stark prose with atmospheric detail, add vibrancy to a dull piece or curb waffling descriptions, this guide can help. Learn how to make your settings intense, realistic, and intriguing. This is the tenth book in Rayne Hall's acclaimed Writer's Craft Do you want your readers to feel like they're really there—in the place where the story happens? Whether you want to enrich stark prose with atmospheric detail, add vibrancy to a dull piece or curb waffling descriptions, this guide can help. Learn how to make your settings intense, realistic, and intriguing. This is the tenth book in Rayne Hall's acclaimed Writer's Craft series.


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Do you want your readers to feel like they're really there—in the place where the story happens? Whether you want to enrich stark prose with atmospheric detail, add vibrancy to a dull piece or curb waffling descriptions, this guide can help. Learn how to make your settings intense, realistic, and intriguing. This is the tenth book in Rayne Hall's acclaimed Writer's Craft Do you want your readers to feel like they're really there—in the place where the story happens? Whether you want to enrich stark prose with atmospheric detail, add vibrancy to a dull piece or curb waffling descriptions, this guide can help. Learn how to make your settings intense, realistic, and intriguing. This is the tenth book in Rayne Hall's acclaimed Writer's Craft series.

30 review for Writing Vivid Settings: Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I know these books look naff, and I wouldn't particularly recommend the others in the series, but this one is very useful. I'd recommend it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    BLynne

    I found this book by Hall to be more informative and it provided some helpful ideas like having a setting description bank. Really enjoyed this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    This is another gem from Rayne Hall and ranks along aside my all-time favourite of hers, The Word Loss Diet. In Writing Vivid Settings Hall breaks down different ways of including the setting into scene without bogging down the pace or producing long slabs of description that the reader duly skips. She looks at ways on including smells, sounds, light, colour, weather, telling details, similes, symbols and discusses the use of effective word choices. She explores how to include the setting throug This is another gem from Rayne Hall and ranks along aside my all-time favourite of hers, The Word Loss Diet. In Writing Vivid Settings Hall breaks down different ways of including the setting into scene without bogging down the pace or producing long slabs of description that the reader duly skips. She looks at ways on including smells, sounds, light, colour, weather, telling details, similes, symbols and discusses the use of effective word choices. She explores how to include the setting through the senses of the point of view character. She then applies all these techniques to the challenges of writing specific scenes - such as opening scenes, climaxes, action, suspense, romance, at night, indoors and outdoors, and over the passage of time. She also discusses writing about and researching real places before giving a flash fiction including many of the techniques she mentions. As with other books in her For Writers series, she gives plenty of examples,tips on things to avoid and exercises to follow at the end of each chapter. I particularly liked her suggestion of building up a Setting Description Bank by journalling actual places you visit on a regular basis. I can highly recommend this book of writing powerful settings for writers of fiction and creative non-fiction.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mercedes

    I've never read such an informative book on scene creation. Everything this author tells you in the book is right on. I'm an avid reader and recognized all the things she was saying for scene creation. I discovered that I'm missing this in my book and need to do some work on it. I used up 2 highlighters marking all the things I need to reference back to. I'm eager to check out her other books and I hope they are just chocked full of information as this one.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    Note to avoid this ableist garbage. More info here: https://twitter.com/sabinapost/status... Note to avoid this ableist garbage. More info here: https://twitter.com/sabinapost/status...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Holli

    This one has a lot of good information about how to bring one's book further to life by enhancing the setting. I read once that you should treat your settings as its own character due to how important it is to the novel. This book seems to support this argument by helping the writing do just this. One thing she should have included for gathering sound information for the "setting description bank" is YouTube. I've found a wealth of sound effects for things I'd rather not get near for finding out This one has a lot of good information about how to bring one's book further to life by enhancing the setting. I read once that you should treat your settings as its own character due to how important it is to the novel. This book seems to support this argument by helping the writing do just this. One thing she should have included for gathering sound information for the "setting description bank" is YouTube. I've found a wealth of sound effects for things I'd rather not get near for finding out what something I need would sound like. For example, a war zone, both up close and far away. I can't remember the last time I wanted to get near one to make note of how it sounds...at any distance. Or, things like large lizards, venomous snakes, even predatory cats which are also kind of dangerous to get near. Or, even ones that aren't exactly easy to find, like space ship sounds. Kind of impossible to come by here on planet Earth, unless you want to go through a million games, tv shows, or movies trying to find the sound you want. I do like the "if you dare, visit a cemetery at midnight or walk through a rough neighborhood" idea. Seriously?! Um, I'll have to take a pass on that much authenticity.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Leticia

    I consider "Writing Vivid Settings: Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors (Writer's Craft #10) by Rayne Hall" a very helpful book on writing techniques. It has many practical tips on improving setting and avoiding the blank space effect on scenes. I mostly liked the "Mistakes to avoid" and the assignments at the end of each chapter. The worksheet in the chapter about building a descriptions bank was quite interesting too. In any case, I'll be taking a second look at all those practical tip I consider "Writing Vivid Settings: Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors (Writer's Craft #10) by Rayne Hall" a very helpful book on writing techniques. It has many practical tips on improving setting and avoiding the blank space effect on scenes. I mostly liked the "Mistakes to avoid" and the assignments at the end of each chapter. The worksheet in the chapter about building a descriptions bank was quite interesting too. In any case, I'll be taking a second look at all those practical tips while revising my WIP.

  8. 5 out of 5

    C.M. Stephenson

    4.5 from me. I downloaded a sample of this book quite a while ago and then forgot all about it. I bought the full version last week and wish I'd done it earlier. Its a very useful and easy to understand resource. In particular for those writing their first book or studying creative writing. I definitely recommend it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nights

    This was quite a helpful book. When I ordered it, I thought it would be bigger, and was surprised by how thin it was, but it's got so many helpful tricks that you hardly notice. I'm glad I picked it up :)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kit

    I really wanted to get a copy of this book, and finally caved and bought it a couple of nights ago. I definitely don't regret it--the tips it holds in its pages are great. Like most of the Writer's Craft books, the tips inside may not seem jaw-dropping or revolutionary. They're organized in a great, simple way that makes the advice easy to follow. Which is, actually, really important in a how-to-write book. The part I found to be the most useful about this book were the sections on how and when t I really wanted to get a copy of this book, and finally caved and bought it a couple of nights ago. I definitely don't regret it--the tips it holds in its pages are great. Like most of the Writer's Craft books, the tips inside may not seem jaw-dropping or revolutionary. They're organized in a great, simple way that makes the advice easy to follow. Which is, actually, really important in a how-to-write book. The part I found to be the most useful about this book were the sections on how and when to insert certain kinds of description. I tend to do everything the book says are common mistakes: too little or too much description, and blocks of it in strange places. This book has helped me clear up the big setting question that has always been in my head: how on earth should you space out description? This on its own made the book worth it. There was one thing that bothered me--maybe it's a kindle version thing, or just mind being weird. The formatting is broken on several chapters, where the text suddenly becomes tiny for several pages then goes back to being normal. The table of contents chapter links break after chapter 13, and disappear until Double Rainbows at the end. Cue: bwuh? It didn't interfere with the content of the book, but it was a little distracting when the font size kept changing and I felt like I couldn't skip around to look back at previous chapters because I was sure I would lose my place without a functioning table of contents. (Also, I admit it: one of the biggest reasons why I wanted this book was because of the cover. It took me forever and a day to realize that the thing the hand on the bottom left is holding is a landscape. I honest to goodness thought it was a firebird for the longest time.)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Smith

    This is an excellent book to read if you are a writer trying to improve your descriptive prose. Rayne Hall writes about several areas where description can be improved, such as focusing on smell, sound, light, and color. Further, she details several techniques within each subsection that one can use to make a scene or setting come alive. I was working on a short story at the time I read this book, and my opening scene was set in a bland office with a pair of characters who might as well have just This is an excellent book to read if you are a writer trying to improve your descriptive prose. Rayne Hall writes about several areas where description can be improved, such as focusing on smell, sound, light, and color. Further, she details several techniques within each subsection that one can use to make a scene or setting come alive. I was working on a short story at the time I read this book, and my opening scene was set in a bland office with a pair of characters who might as well have just been talking heads in white space. The detail just wasn't there. After reading this book I was able to insert description about the light of the sun filtering through the windows and the aroma of the coffee in one of the character's hands, and so on. The scene really came alive and was far more interesting to read than my original draft. Further, she goes beyond the description of just the base techniques and areas of detail to focus on and applies them to different kinds of scenes: openings (Like the one I was working on above), climaxes, action scenes, and fight scenes. Different details are needed for different kinds of scenes, both to set mood and to also ground the reader into a believable story. A fight scene doesn't lack believability when it's set in a fantastic setting. A fight scene lacks believability when the man fighting for his life is pausing to smell the proverbial roses. All in all, an excellent read and one I will return to again and again as reference during the revision process.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katia M. Davis

    This book is much better than the author's book on writing scary scenes. I almost didn't read this one because of that one. However, this book does contain quite a bit of useful information and techniques to try out. The only thing that worries me a little is the idea of keeping 'bank' of descriptions. I worry that I'd spend more time adding to my descriptions than actually writing, and I'm not too keen on the idea of looking up a description for something and plonking it in the middle of a scen This book is much better than the author's book on writing scary scenes. I almost didn't read this one because of that one. However, this book does contain quite a bit of useful information and techniques to try out. The only thing that worries me a little is the idea of keeping 'bank' of descriptions. I worry that I'd spend more time adding to my descriptions than actually writing, and I'm not too keen on the idea of looking up a description for something and plonking it in the middle of a scene I'm writing. Maybe I am lucky my mind works the way it does. If I want to write a setting, I close my eyes, take a breath and things just start appearing in my mind's eye and it plays through like a 3D movie complete with smell-o vision and surround sound. All I have to do is write it down. I guess not everyone has that. This book has some good pointers, but I'll not be using everything in it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Lynn

    Helpful Nothing in this book is complicated. Rather common sense mostly, however, some of this stuff is either done poorly by newer authors or completely forgotten by them. If you want to write a book this is a great place to start. You learn so much within these pages that you will not regret buying this one. It just covers so much!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Costin Manda

    This book opened my eyes on multiple levels. First of all it went right through my Dunning–Kruger effect that made me hope that writing would be easy. Second, it showed me how to see the world as a writer, which is hugely valuable. Writing Vivid Settings is also a value packed reference book. Rayne Hall doesn't go artificially raising your expectation level - you know the type: "in this book I will show you how to eliminate hunger and solve poverty, but before that...", he instead just goes right This book opened my eyes on multiple levels. First of all it went right through my Dunning–Kruger effect that made me hope that writing would be easy. Second, it showed me how to see the world as a writer, which is hugely valuable. Writing Vivid Settings is also a value packed reference book. Rayne Hall doesn't go artificially raising your expectation level - you know the type: "in this book I will show you how to eliminate hunger and solve poverty, but before that...", he instead just goes right into it. In fact the transition to actual useful information was so abrupt that I found myself feeling grateful before I could even understand what the book was about. Then, when I did, it hit me even harder, because I understood not only what I was missing in my writing, but also what I was missing in my every day perception. If I were to summarize the book, it is all about consciously describing from the point of view of your characters, in a way that makes the reader connect emotionally and subconsciously to the character and scene. In Hall's view there is no such thing as objective scenes, they are defined more than anything else by the character that observes them. The book advises to describe through the senses: smells, sounds, the lighting of the room, the way things feel to the touch, etc, then go towards what the character would most likely notice, based on their own personality and background, making sure to use similes so that the memory of the scene becomes anchored in the reader's mind in the same way it would in the mind of the observer in the book. Yes, it does sound weird, doesn't it? Make the reader feel as the person who doesn't really exist except in the writer's head. Each chapter in the book explains elements on how to describe the surroundings, when to use them, how to use them, what to avoid, professional examples from other books and some assignments to make you get right to it. And there is where it becomes interesting. When I told my wife about it, she immediately recognized exercises for "grounding", something that is used in mindfulness and gestalt psychology. As an example: describe the smells in the room, then the way the light enters it and how it changes the colors, then some background sounds, all by using verbs that are very specific and indicative of the character's mood and similes that would be indicative of the character's background. I kind of mixed several chapters in this, so you can get the point. Well, when is the last time you ever did something like that in your life? When were you last conscious of the sounds and smells around you and what they evoke? When did you last compare the light in a place to a living thing, with a mind of its own, just because you can? It is all about bringing all those vague perceptions to a form that can be communicated, to others and to yourself. That is the trick to good writing, for sure, but also a way of observing the world around you. Suddenly, I felt like a little child that doesn't see the world around because he doesn't know how. I found myself going places and trying to describe the scene as instructed in the book - many of the assignments in it suggest doing right that, anyway - and it was hard. It was more than hard, it felt impossible. Like living your life on a psychologist's bench, always asking you "what does that mean?" and "how does it make you feel?" and "what will that lead to?". But how alive the world seemed while doing that! Aware of my own senses, feelings and their roots, I could suddenly understand people who enjoy life for its own sake. The book's description is "Do you want your readers to feel like they're really there—in the place where the story happens?" After reading it, it seemed that I was never there in the first place. It probably doesn't say things differently from other writing books, but it certainly opened my eyes. I also absolutely loved how it didn't start with marketing bullshit and got right into it, with theory, examples and exercises. It can be used as a reference, before and after writing, since it has exercises on improving already existing work. I think this is a great book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Lots Of Helpful Tips This book had a lot of good tips on writing settings (my weakness!), some which I will definitely incorporate into my writing. At the end of each chapter there are exercises, if that's your thing. What was annoying was the formatting. The table of content listed 13 chapters, which is incorrect, as there are 24 chapters. Which is annoying not just because it is wrong, but because the author constantly references other chapters, so if you're navigating on the Kindle, you're goi Lots Of Helpful Tips This book had a lot of good tips on writing settings (my weakness!), some which I will definitely incorporate into my writing. At the end of each chapter there are exercises, if that's your thing. What was annoying was the formatting. The table of content listed 13 chapters, which is incorrect, as there are 24 chapters. Which is annoying not just because it is wrong, but because the author constantly references other chapters, so if you're navigating on the Kindle, you're going to have to search manually if you want to check it. It's just a dumb problem to have. Overall though, I found this to be a useful little book. I'm definitely going to check out others in this series, and if you're curious, you should give this one a try.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Roger

    A power packed punch above many other self help books. This book excites me with its many helpful suggestions. I am sure it will be referred to many times in the course of my writing career. Thankfully, I purchased this as an e-book. A paperback copy would soon be dog eared and falling apart. The author concludes the book with a powerful example of how she uses the methods in her own work. I felt a wave of disappointment upon reaching the last page. If I had to make a minor criticism, it is that A power packed punch above many other self help books. This book excites me with its many helpful suggestions. I am sure it will be referred to many times in the course of my writing career. Thankfully, I purchased this as an e-book. A paperback copy would soon be dog eared and falling apart. The author concludes the book with a powerful example of how she uses the methods in her own work. I felt a wave of disappointment upon reaching the last page. If I had to make a minor criticism, it is that it too liberally spread with examples of other people's work.

  17. 4 out of 5

    scott hamilton

    My readers will benefit from what I learned from Rayne Hall Rayne has shown me how my readers can experience my story as I intended. It is both an instructive text for learning and an extraordinary handbook for final editing. I have learned how to use the readers senses to fully engage them in the story. If the reader is not engaged, they are unlikely to finish the story. Writing Vivid Settings is a must read it you want to learn the art letting your readers truly experience your tale. Everyone s My readers will benefit from what I learned from Rayne Hall Rayne has shown me how my readers can experience my story as I intended. It is both an instructive text for learning and an extraordinary handbook for final editing. I have learned how to use the readers senses to fully engage them in the story. If the reader is not engaged, they are unlikely to finish the story. Writing Vivid Settings is a must read it you want to learn the art letting your readers truly experience your tale. Everyone should have this book I their library!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lowel Goss

    Great Starting Point For Newbies I believe this book is a great starting point for most newbies like me. Easy quick reading that not only gives the reader the ability to think about what they’re writing, but also how to give their writings life. This book also offers a touch of real experience and knowledge by the author and others, through the use of great examples. A must have for anyone who wants to breath life into their writings!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Like the other book I've read in this series on writing, it reads fast. I've learned tricks to help me with my writing. This is a must read for writers who struggle with detailed settings, who need to expand their techniques on how to use other aspects of where you are to expand your setting, all with the five sense. I definitely would recommend.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Peter West

    Great advice for writers This book is full of so much good advice on how to add depth and realism to any setting. It's not a one trick poney. It's a many feathered bow. I'd recommend this book for any author who wants to bring settings alive in every scene. Oh, and don't trust anyone called Sybil. (You'll understand why when you've read the short story at the end).

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    As a novice who only a few years back received a sudden urge to write, this guide has been immensely valuable My eyes have been opened to the dull setting my WiP contains. This book provides guidance to enhance your settings in a variety of ways letting your readers become more emotionally attached to your characters. There truly is something for everyone.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Raine Parsons

    "As a writer I found the tips in this book very helpful. I am anxious to put some of this to use in my latest WIP. I have already purchased her book, Vivid Plots." AMAZON.COM Writing Vivid Settings: Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors (Writer's Craft Book 10) Do you want your readers to feel like they're really there—in the place where the story happens?…

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Owen

    Excellent Resource This is an excellent resource for writers who want to improve their skill at writing settings. It is full of valuable information on how to do something and why it works.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Theodore Campbell

    Great assignments. Fantastic teaching tool. Rayne makes it simple to understand how a writer is to get to vivid descriptions through her marvelous theories backed with eye opening assignments. Incredible resource.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Malek Montag

    Vivid and sound Very complete and thorough with plenty of tips, suggestions, examples and pointers on common errors. With the short story bonus at the end, this is well worth a look.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Divone

    This was really informative. The concepts in this book are things I hadn't considered. This book is a helpful tool for anyone interested in writing or who wants to gain a greater awareness of fictional writing.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joana Stoyanova

    One of the most useful and straight-forward books I've read in a while. It is quite interesting and quite insightful. I'll definitely recommend it to anyone who is struggling to figure out how to write proper setting.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Angell Johnson

    This book is a part of a series of story elements that are covered in depth one by one. This one focused on world building, description, aspects of story which I could take a lot from. These books are only a buck a piece, and are compressed with many gems, and hardly any filler information.

  29. 5 out of 5

    andy hesford

    Very good resource A really great helpful tool for writers and I will take a lot from it would have given more stars however later in the book there are formatting issues which are quite jarring to read. Thank you Rayne

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ketari Cole

    Novice or experienced writer... You need this book! I wish I’d come across this book years ago. I’ve learned so much and I plan to buy more of her guides to help strengthen my craft. I’m finally excited about revisions. Thank you so much!

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