Scenes that lack location tend to feel empty or, conversely, too crowded. Everyone's standing -- well. Who knows?

Where is Everybody?

When you sit down to write a scene, you need to know where everyone is. I don't mean you have to tell us, although you might, but you need to know. There are two reasons, in this context, for confusion and ambiguity in a scene. The first is that you haven't decided where people are. You just know you want, for example, Geneva to learn that the injured man in her bedroom is someone important. The second reason is you know where everyone is but forgot your readers don't. I suppose a third reason is that you're just a hopelessly bad writer who doesn't even realize it, in which case you aren't reading this.

Here's an example.

    "You can't take in every poor soul you find." Lady Silver stopped at the doorway. She gasped when she saw the injured man. "Cousin Jonas?"
    Geneva turned to see her friend's expression of astonishnment before she rushed past her to the bed.

Do you know who's doing what? I don't. The picture is muddy and unfocused. Here's one way to fix it:

    "You can't take in every poor soul you find," lady Silver said as she followed Geneva into the sickroom. Geneva hadn't gone ten steps into the room when she heard a gasp from behind her.
    "Cousin Jonas?" Lady Silver ran to the injured man.

Your assignment

This is a hard one. Find a passage in your WIP where there are two or more people doing something. Take a deep breath and read only the words on the page. Do your best to forget, for the moment, what you were thinking when you wrote it. Read only what you actually said. If you can't form a picture of where people are, re-write it to give some specificity in location.

Extra Credit

Never mind. The assignment is difficult enough.

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