Writer’s Tip #2: Placing your characters in a scene with Google Images
I read a lot of stories where I have no idea where the characters are.
Both in the small scale, like, how close they are to the table or chairs or each other, and in the large scale of what neighborhood they live in, where their school is, what the town or city is like, etc.
Look, we don’t need Tolkien levels of florid background description, but I do need to feel like your characters aren’t floating on a blank white page.
If you have a general idea of where your characters are, but you struggle to place them, or describe the scenery, use google to find appropriate stock images.
Then, like, describe them.
I googled “coffee shop” for this one.
Use the imagery within and place your characters in there. Sit them at the table at the back of the shop near the window that overlooks the rainy street. Place your barista behind the counter pulling expensive teas down from copper pots on the high, decorative shelves. Put some extra customers in there, getting their drink and sitting down to do homework on their laptop at the bar stools.
It’s easy to describe a scene and accurately place character when you have a visual that isn’t constantly shifting. Let’s do it again.
I googled “apartment living room”
Allura sat down on the white couch, coffee in hand, cuddling up to the plush pillows surrounding her; a housewarming gift from her best friend so many years ago. The record on the player spun slowly, and light jazz music filled the room, calming her nerves about finals. She wriggled her toes into the old persian rug on the floor, feeling the day’s stresses melt away as she waited for Pidge to arrive. She’d probably poke through Allura’s bookshelves before she even took her coat off, like she did every time she came over. Pidge would judge anyone by the books they read.
All I did was use the furniture and accessories already in the scene, and add a character.
Both of those images are blank. Let’s add some people!
I googled “busy beach”
Keith arrived at the beach to a shock of dismay. On a sunny July 1st, everyone else was there as well. Sunbathers drenched in tanning lotion soaked up the rays on colourful blankets as groups of volleyball players staked out a good net. Tiny kids barely out of strollers played in the lapping ocean waves as their parents kept a watchful eye over them while teenagers crowded the snack shack, eating fries and ice cream.
Use pictures. Use scenery. You don’t have to worry about generating whole new ideas from scratch, just find a good picture and describe what’s already there.