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Writing 101, Day Two: A Room with a View (Or Just a View)

We’re all drawn to certain places. If you had the power to get somewhere — anywhere — where would you go right now? For your twist, focus on building a setting description.

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If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

The spaces we inhabit have an influence on our mood, our behavior, and even the way we move and interact with others. Enter a busy train station, and you immediately quicken your step. Step into a majestic cathedral, and you lower your voice and automatically look up. Return to your own room, and your body relaxes.

A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.

— Joan Didion

Today, choose a place to which you’d like to be transported if you could — and tell us the backstory. How does this specific location affect you? Is it somewhere you’ve been, luring you with the power of nostalgia, or a place you’re aching to explore for the first time?

Today’s twist: organize your post around the description of a setting.

Giving your readers a clear sense of the space where your story unfolds will help them plunge deeper into your writing. Whether it’s a room, a house, a town, or something entirely different (a cave? a spaceship?), provide concrete details to set this place apart — and to create a more immersive reading experience.

You can go the hyperrealist route (think the opening four paragraphs of Gustave Flaubert’s A Simple Soul, a masterclass of telling detail). Or focus on how a specific space makes the people in it feel and behave, like blogger Julie Riso did in this visceral recounting of her hike through an Estonian bog.

Need a helping hand? Head to The Commons.

Editors’ Note:  you’ll get much more helpful feedback from your co-bloggers here and in The Commons if you ask specific questions. Questions like “What do you think of my blog?” or “Is this post good?” are difficult for people to respond to because they’re so broad; often, you’ll get an equally broad response (“It’s good!”), which doesn’t help you grow.

Instead, think about the particular things you’re interested in knowing, like:

  • Does my post feel too long? How could I make it more focused?
  • If you were interested in dogs/gardening/baseball/spelunking/your blog topic, would you find this post interesting? Will it help me reach other dogs/gardeners/baseball fans/spelunkers?
  • Does the introduction of this post intrigue you? Is the ending of my short story powerful enough?
  • Did I clearly explain how to make lasagna/run a marathon/groom a dog? What was unclear?

If you have more than one question, that’s fine, although we recommend focusing on one or two questions per post to avoid overwhelming folks. You’ve got a lot of challenges ahead of you, so there’s plenty of time to ask about different things.

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  1. my baby is sleeping and i just got the chance to work on my Day 2 assignment. 🙂
    please check it out here

    http://writing101june2014.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/writing-101-day-2-transporting-back-to-the-past/

    I’m a newbie here. I love to write but writing doesn’t seem to love me. I’m not confident that I could write well. I joined here hoping that I could improve my writing skills with your help and assistance.
    I feel like my post wasn’t organized and I only used simple words. I would greatly appreciate it if you could give me some advice on how I could make it better.. Thank you!

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  2. Hello there, I have posted my effort for Day 2. I’d like to know what you think, Thankyou.
    http:// hannamar.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/Kalimera!/

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  3. After the initial glitch mainly caused by my non-geek brain I finally posted my first blog. I see that what I wrote on is a bit different from the prompt for the writing 101 challenge. I will follow the guidelines strictly from now on I guess. is that OK?

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    1. Reblogging a post makes an excerpt of it appear on your own blog as a new post. So writing a comment on a reblog means the comment, too, is on your own blog.

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  4. How do I actually sign up for access to the Commons? I love following this series but would love to be more interactively involved.

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  5. I’m thoroughly confused. I thought Day 2 was the prompt about hard to contain emotion and wrote accordingly. Yesterday I wasn’t able to get online so I didn’t see this until today. Now I’m behind two days. Oh well, story of my life. 🙂

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    1. Ah, yes! That was our Daily Writing Prompt — we post a new writing prompt, independent of our blogging challenge assignments each day at 8 am Eastern.

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