Affordances No. 18 by Jonathan Zawada for Matter-Made. “Zawada’s Affordances No.1A & No.1B are the first commercially available pieces from the artist and designer. Their interlocking marble shapes are based on essential forms and simplified construction: designed to be flat-packed, the table can be assembled without the use of tools or hardware. The underside of the tabletop is lined with a layer of shock-absorbent rubber, which also grips the base. The three-piece table is available in four marbles: VT White Danby, Nero Marquina, Rosso Imparo, and Dark Emperador, offering a dynamic range of solids and color-combinations.”
asked: My story’s pacing so far has been all wrong. I’m writing a multi-part Kagerou Project fanfic, and the first part got a lot of positive feedback, but I wasn’t happy with the pacing. I wrote draft after draft of the second part and scrapped every single one until I realized that I had been skimming over the descriptions of the setting. I want to do it right this time, so do you have any advice on describing locales without having the descriptions be intrusive?
You can spend a short paragraph setting the scene when a character first walks into it. Then, just find ways to incorporate the scenery into everything else that’s happening. Incorporate things like sounds, smells, textures, even tastes. Find relevant ways for the character to interact with their environment as the scene unfolds.
Let’s say you have the following scene:
Mary finished reading the letter and set it on the table before pausing to look out the window. A moment later, a light rap on the door announced Mr. Davis, who himself was there to announce the arrival of Mary’s much anticipated guest. After quickly composing herself, she sat herself down and waited for him to appear.
Plenty is happening here but it isn’t telling us much about the setting. Let’s say that an earlier paragraph set the scene by showing us that Mary had traveled for days by carriage before arriving at her aunt’s enormous country home in the north. With that in mind, let’s try that other paragraph again but with more detail about the setting:
Mary finished reading the letter and set it on the marble side table before pausing to look out the window. Pushing aside one of the great velvet curtains, Mary leaned into the glass, hoping to catch a view of the road. There was nothing but green rolling hills in every direction, so her eyes fell instead on the ornate but water-logged garden below the window. She was inwardly lamenting the poor weather when there came a knock at the door.
Mary was startled when Mr. Davis appeared. “Miss? A Mr. Andrews is here to see you.”
“Please send him in,” Mary answered elegantly, and she held her shoulders high as she crossed the luxurious Persian rug, her eyes scanning the smartly furnished room for anything amiss. When she was certain the room was presentable, she settled herself on the newly upholstered settee from Paris, jutting her chin into the air with as much magnificence as she could muster.
That paragraph tells us much more about the setting without gumming up the pace of the action. The action is still happening, it’s just happening in a more descriptive way.