I’m going to set a scene. I want you to focus on the words and try to imagine you are there. Just sit and put yourself in the place I paint. I want to see how effective I am at the art of description.
Lace rustles, quiet footsteps emerge through the muffled silence. The air is heavy and smells of old parchment and wood. The only light in the room comes from a series of high windows that set the sunlight spiraling through trails of dust. The figure of a woman walks softly between tall shelves, shadowed by the looming towers of books that sit, lopsided and crooked, upon every surface. She pauses before a particularly large pile of papers, her long, pale fingers searching between them. At last, with a heavy sigh that whispers around the room, she finds what she is looking for.
Alright. Time to change the scene again and try a new one. Ready for it?
The market bustles. Horse hooves clatter upon the cobblestones, and mothers yell as their children dart, laughing, around the animals’ anxious forms. A playful breeze tugs at the crowded lane, winding itself around the coloured scarves at one booth before going to pick up the scent of frying meat from another. It dances between shoppers and vendors alike, then skirts around a fountain that sends water splashing into a deep bowl. A small child leans over the rim, his grimy hands playing with the water, reaching for the coins crowded at the bottom.
Enough of that one. Time to switch this up again.
The stone wall was rough beneath the girl’s fingertips. She bent nearer, examining it, her eyes narrowed. It was worn and crumbling, low enough to step over. Beyond it, a tangled maze of ruins lay, overgrown with thick meadow grasses. Insects hummed above the mess of thorns and flowers that ate away at the lost buildings. The girl straightened and frowned. She clambered onto the nearest wall, careful not to catch the hem of her dress on the uneven stone. From this new vantage point she could just make out the rising shape of a haphazard temple wall.
One more, shall we? And then you’ll have to tell me what you think.
The wind whipped branches to the ground, sending cedar boughs creaking and bending as it careened between the trees. It rattled the thin window panes of the old cabin, blowing snow sideways and painting the decrepit building like a gingerbread house. The air was icy and sharp in the boy’s lungs as he drew hesitant gulps of the winter wind. He surveyed the cabin, uncertain. It was rotten and half collapsed, the walls leaning drunkenly against a nearby tree. He stepped forwards with difficulty, his boots carving trenches in the drifts of powder.
Well… that was a fun bit of scene setting. Tell me what you think!