For the next fortnight I’ll be participating in a new course, MASTER : ACTIVE SETTINGS. I’m keen to do this as I know there is a real need for succinct descriptions of setting in my WIP.

So Reader, I’m going to  share some of what I learn. But not all, because you should do the course if you want to learn how to up the ante with your settings and make them work for you.

Monday, we started with a request to introduce ourselves and then describe a tree, house and car. I wrote my first responses on Monday night at around 9.30pm and then without too much editing, sent them in.

Mary Buckham responded first thing Tuesday morning, which is still Monday night in the US where she is, so I was suitably impressed to get such a quick response.

She liked my tree and car description, but I’m pleased to say my description of the house was somewhat lacking!

Why was I pleased, because I knew I wasn’t really happy with it, but Mary pointed out where it didn’t work. I could see what she meant as soon as I read her comment. It has given me an insight as to what I’m going to get out of this!


Here’s a sample of one of my assignment answers, the object is to make the setting work to express the emotion in the scene. I have enclosed both the before and after, and Mary’s encouraging comment.

From WIP

I looked around the room, surely Papa must have slept on the floor, I had not
heard him enter, and the door was still open. Surely he must have been in, and
gone again. I realised he would need to get to work in the field before the heat
of the day.


My eyes adjusted to the gloom with sleepy half awareness, the raucous cawing of
some bird dragging me into wakefulness. I snuggled back into the familiar smell
of the Papa scented quilt and rubbed my face into the prickly softness of his
feather pillow. The door was open, allowing a hint of breeze to enter, Papa must
have left it open when he gone.

**** Wow Paula – what a difference! First version the reader is simply being
told the facts and there’s very little if no sense of a setting. Second version
you made the story come alive without adding all that many words. Now the reader
gets to experience along with the character that sense of just waking, being
disoriented and putting the pieces together. The reader is under that quilt and
feeling it, hearing the bird, feeling the breeze, smelling the scents – we’re
there with her. Doesn’t get better than that!!  Thanks for sharing ~~ you nailed

Cheers ~~ Mary B 🙂 

Reader, I’m finding this course to be an invaluable tool, I’ve signed up for another two courses with Mary Buckham, via There are several excellent classes available, and I’m sure over time I’ll be doing even more as I work through my manuscript.