How do you set your atmosphere? It’s as important in a story as creating believable characters, and just as tricky.
It’s easy for a writer to slip into the easy way out when setting the backdrop for his/her well thought out characters.
For example: Dr. Trainlove sat upon his stool and studied the page before him. His wire-rimmed spectacles perched upon his nose, and his gray, frazzled hair sticking out at all angles.
That little paragraph tells us something about Dr. Trainlove, but not much about his surroundings. Delving deeper into his ‘place’ can give us lots of information about who he is, without having to ‘tell’ the reader who he is.
Such as: Dr. Trainlove made his way to a simple stool at the back of his study. The trip from door to stool was more like an expedition, than a trip from one end of a room to the other. Wading through papers, and stacks of books, vigilant in his effort not to upset the carefully planned disarray. Tripping on a stack of medical journals, Ivan Trainlove shoved his flimsy wire rimmed glasses up further on his nose, and twisted a gnarled finger through his gray, frazzled hair in an attempt to tame it’s unruly spikes that stuck out at all angles as he dropped to the stool, that creaked in protest. With an impatient flourish, he grabbed a single sheet of paper from the top of a precarious stack at the edge of his withered desk, and let the impact of the report sink in.
It would be easier, and more concise to simply say Dr. Trainlove’s office was a mess. It would be weak, passive, and boring though. Instead we see the office for what it is, in an active, and interesting way that portrays the character, and his quirks in a lively way.
How do you set your backdrops?