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Just for Fun #3: Revealing Setting Indirectly


Write a scene set in a strange, exotic place or a time far distant in the past or future, in which the setting is quite familiar to the central character. Do not describe the place. See how much you can tell us about this place through the dialogue and actions of the characters only.

When you're finished, have other people read your scene and describe what they think the setting is like. Did they see what you saw? Why or why not? Were they frustrated by the lack of description, or did they enjoy figuring things out?

Below is an example I wrote, just for fun.


"Did you hear that?" Lord Kinbote tightened the tourniquet about his leg.

"They're coming back for a second helping." Vincent lifted his biohelm from the floor and kicked at the carcass. "You hungry?"

"Send the message again," Lord Kinbote said.

Vincent pressed a button on the console, then knelt down and dug into the mass of wires hanging there. "Buggers ate through the wiring. Nobody heard us."

Lord Kinbote knelt beside Vincent and tilted his head. "They're coming in through the exhaust vent. They shouldn't be able to get inside, but somehow. . . You see the spoor?"

"I'll seal off the vents. Let's hope--"

"Shh. Hear that?"

Vincent jerked to his feet. "Let's hope the controls are still working." He banged on the console, cursed. "We could make a run for it."

Lord Kinbote turned, sitting on the floor. "You could. But the flesh would be ripped from your bones before you reached the forest floor. Look outside, Vincent. Look at Louis's body."

Vincent held the vidigoggles up to his eyes, turned in a slow circle, moving his head up and down. In mid-turn he stopped. "We should have gone out for him."

"We'll soon look very like him. Hand me--"

Vincent threw the goggles to the floor. "What the hell are they doing out there? You said they were harmless. You said they didn't move in numbers."

"Hand me that dissection tray. And you take the other. We need to block off these vents from the inside. Do you have an instrument that can fasten these securely to the floor?"

"Yeah, yeah." Vincent pulled up the trays, scattering organs and instruments on the floor, and tossed one toward each of the three exhaust vents. He squeezed around the dissection table and stacks of specimen cases and opened his tool cabinet.

Lord Kinbote held the tray over the vent. "They appear drawn to some chemical in our exhaust. Perhaps this chemical mimics a pheromone, attracting them for mating or feeding purposes."

Vincent handed him the hypertacker. "Press it down, pull the trigger. And be quick about it. We've only got one."


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Updated Nov 30, 2002
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