Creating Atmosphere (part 2)

May 11, 2014  Prompt #10

DSCN5024Using yesterday’s exercise, choose one of the situations below and fit it into the setting you have created. Feel free, as always to change pronouns, adjective and details in the examples. Write for 15 minutes.

  • A  man is searching for something.
  • A young child is humming to herself.
  •  Two exhausted people arguing.
  •  A grandmother is teaching something to her grandson.


  • Consider how the action relates to the setting. Can the setting relay information to the reader beyond spoken words? For instance, if a man is searching in a dark attic, how does the lack of light affect him? What if he’s searching on the driveway under a hot sun?
  •  As always, include sensory details. Let the reader know about sounds, odors, and textures.

How This Prompt Can Strengthen Your Writing

  • Provides practice connecting action, setting, and dialogue so they serve each other.
  • Pushes you to create a specific and vibrant place, drawing your reader in.

 Further Writing

  • Switch things up. If it’s a clear dawn, what happens if rain clouds move in?
  • Add another person to the mix. Does this ease or add tension?
  • If you have dialogue, be sure to blend it with action. If it’s hot and bright on the driveway, does a character drip with sweat? Put on sunglasses? Take off his shirt? Drink iced coffee?

Variations for Writing Groups

  1. On index cards, write down scenarios other than those listed above. Members choose a scenario and write for 15 minutes.
  2. After members share their work, each member notes a phrase or word that struck them as they listened.  Choose one of those phrases and write it on  top of a fresh sheet of paper. Write in response to it for 15 more minutes.

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