On sites and scenery


It’s always been difficult for me to get setting descriptions just right. Sometimes, I create the character’s surroundings on the spot and make it up as I go along in the chapter. Sometimes, I’ve had it planned for so long that it could probably be called obsessive compulsive.

But I’m not. *eye twitch*

I just have a hard time with describing places. It’s one of the main reasons why I began to write plays in the first place… so I wouldn’t be obligated to announce to the audience exactly what the inside of a coat closet smells like, or how the grass in the meadow is likened to the fluffy fibers of a fuzzy, green comforter. I used to hate excessive descriptions that go on for pages and pages. I thought they were unnecessary and altogether irritating.

Turns out, I was kind of wrong.

A few years ago while working on another project that involved the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral, I discovered the beauty in description. It took the burden of being able to use only a few lines to paint the breath-taking, staggering glory of a centuries-old, Gothic masterpiece to make me realize that the right amount of description can flavor a scene or sweeten a moment. It’s indispensable to a novel and stunning in a play.

For Privateer, I’ve decided upon a few key settings… some of which I haven’t written into existence yet.* But here are a few photos that I think capture what I’m trying to portray…


*I may update this post as I introduce new settings in Privateer.

Samantha Chaffin


2 thoughts on “On sites and scenery

  1. TheJaneite says:

    Wow, the pictures really capture the setting!! I love the mirror and the writing nook and the one of just the waves…beautiful. I don’t know why, but usually when a book is set in a high-seas situation, I picture Master and Commander; have you seen / read it / them? Anyway, I totally get what you mean about descriptions, but I’ve never had the elegant prose or satirical sense of humor necessary to write plays, so I had no escape. 🙂 By the way, you should post a play sometime. I have probably said that before. 🙂 Have you actually seen the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral? If so, I am green with envy right now. I’ve only seen the version in Montreal. Anyway, lovely post, but a certain writing pal of mine just posted two chapters in an amazing book I’m reading, so I have to run. 🙂

  2. samchaffin says:

    Yayyy, I’m so glad you think so! I wasn’t sure about the mirror photo and debated posting it because I originally pictured it as a floor length mirror in a very simple inn. But unfortunately for me, I have a rather overdeveloped weakness for the ornate… hence, mirror picture.

    Haha oh, but I HAVE posted plays online! Actually, not full plays, but I kept a playwriting blog last semester (while I was taking a playwriting class) and I posted scenes I wrote on that site. Looking back, all of them are in desperate need of help and rewrites… but I guess that’s why it’s good to read them again? The blog is called FESS UP, if you’d ever like to read largely incoherent Samantha-mind-vomit. And for the record, I’m sure you could write plays if you wanted to, Lydia. You simply ooze “elegant prose” and “satirical humor.” 🙂

    And yes, I actually have been inside and atop Notre Dame! You told me at one point that you have a French Revolution era obsession, right? I have a Paris-in-general obsession… we are truly the perfect writing buddies, oui? 😉

Leave a reply.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s