Developing the scene is one of the most important elements in writing a fiction story, it is second only to developing your characters. Your job as the author is to create a scene that the reader can not only visualize, but can actually see themselves in the world where your story is taking place.

If it is a real place; a country, state, city, community, neighborhood, street, etcÖ, then you need to physically go there if possible, spend some time exploring it, get to know that place as if you grew up or lived a large part of your life there. If itís absolutely not possible for you to go visit the actual location, then visit it using the World Wide Web, the internet. Print out everything that you can find; stories about the place or the people that live there, pictures, etcÖ Try to connect with someone that does live there on one of the networking sites and talk to them. In other words, find out as much as you can by whatever means you have at your disposal then use it to create the world for your story. On the other hand, if your story takes place in a fantasy world, as do most of my tales and stories, then Iím afraid that youíre by no means off the hook. In fact, when youíre dealing with a fantasy world, itís even more critical for you to spend a lot of time there getting to know it, thoroughly.

I know that at least some of you are now asking yourself how you can possibly spend some time in a place that does not exist. If it truly does not exist, then not only can you not go there, you canít write about it either. To write about a place then it MUST have a real and tangible existence, in your mind if nowhere else.

Iíve been told that I must have been gifted with a double dose of imagination and when it comes to visualizing imaginary worlds that just may very well be the case. But there are methods that can be used to help you make the place that youíve created a little more solid in your mind. The best of these has been used in the making of fantasy and science fiction movies for many years, Storyboarding.

Storyboards are graphic organizers such as a series of illustrations or images displayed in sequence for the purpose of pre-visualizing a motion picture, animation, video game, or in your case, a story or book. The storyboarding process, in the form as it is known today, was developed at the Walt Disney Studio during the early nineteen thirtyís and can be very tedious and intricate but very useful as well.

Along with helping you to develop the scene, storyboarding can also help you with all facets of the creation and building of your story. One huge advantage of using storyboards is that it allows you to experiment with changes in the storyline so that you can evoke a stronger reaction from the reader. Flashbacks, for instance, are often the result of sorting storyboards out of chronological order to help build suspense and interest in the story.

No matter whether the place is real or not, taking place now or in the past or even in some far flung future, to write the story you need to know the place just like you were raised there.

Here are a few sample questions youíll need to answer
when developing a scene or setting for your story
1.What type of setting is it? 
  a.Big city? Small town? Rural area? 
  b.Mountainous? Plains? Coastal?

2.Whatís the climate like?
  a.Hot and humid? Cool and dry? Cold and frozen?

3.Is the story long enough to change the seasons?
  a.Leaves changing, Snow and ice, Birds returning, Plant life reawakening?

4.What time period is it?
  a.Historical? 50ís? 60ís? 70ís? 80ís? Futuristic

5.What are the major landmarks?
  a.Natural; distant mountain ranges, water falls, canyons, desert dunes, craters.
  b.Man-made wonders; bridges, buildings, statues, super-cities, bomb scars.

6.What places do the locals frequent and why?
  a.Restaurants, bars, parks, clubs, churches.

7.Are there any odd or unusual characteristics?
  a.Unique tourist attractions; the biggest, longest, tallest, oldest, fastest.

8.What are the nooks and crannies that are only known only to the locals.
  a.The tree where all of the kids initials are carved.
  b.Loverís lane where the romantic couples park.
  c.The secret caves known only to a select crowd of locals.

9.Are there any local legends?
  a.Ghost stories, haunted houses.
  b.Exaggerated tales of local historical figures.

This is just a small sampling of the type questions that youíll need to ask yourself when picking out or creating the setting for your story. Keep in mind that the finer detail that you put into your story, the more real and tangible the scene will become for your readers. To be a successful writer, the readers must be able to see, hear, smell and feel that world as if they were actually there. The world your story takes place in must become a living, breathing entity to the people reading your story. You either want them wishing they were there or relieved that theyíre not. They must be able to step into that world every time they open the book and begin to read.

One of the biggest mistakes that many writers make is not being consistent throughout the story. Iíve seen the seasons in the wrong order, immovable objects changing locations, even time periods changing without a flashback memory. All of these and more are actually relatively easy to mix up and can also be easily spotted and corrected by using the storyboard method I mentioned earlier. It is one of the best tools that a writer can use.

You may think that you canít do it because you are not a good enough artist, you are wrong. As long as you can recognize what you have drawn, thatís all that matters. You donít have to be a professional illustrator to use this valuable tool, but if you happen to be good, then the storyboards can also be used later to illustrate your book or to show the artist you hire to do the illustrations what you have in mind.

In conclusion; to truly capture the interest of a reader, they must be able, for a time, to suspend their belief in the real world while they are magically transported into the world of your story. This is, after all, is the reason that most people read fiction anyway, a temporary escape from the real world that they are forced to live in the rest of the time.

Copyright 2010 by Timothy C. Everhart, author of Tianna Logan and the Salem Academy for Witchcraft, found at: http://www.tiannalogan.com/ and at: http://www.pdbookstore.com/ . To contact the author, send an email to: author@tiannalogan.com

Tianna Logan and the Salem Academy for Witchcraft is the story of a newly orphaned teenage witch thatís had her life turned inside out. Follow along as she enters the academy, makes new friends, and discovers new truths.