SCWW Conference Faculty Guest Post: Aurelia Sands



We’re less than 4 months away from the SCWW already! It’s amazing how time flies. This year, one of my workshops is about painting your scene. I can’t stress how important setting the scene is. While you don’t have to spew the surroundings onto the paper as soon as the story opens, you do have to have it there. “It was a dark and stormy night,” (please don’t use that, it’s totally cliché and only used as an example) will tell quite a different story if it’s for a birthday party instead of a horror. I think five tips is a good number to start with for tips on painting your scene.

  1. Know your scene.

In order to write your scene, you have to know the scene well. For one of my stories, I went to the location I set it at, took pictures of the entire area, looked online for stories about the area, and searched for local tales to blend into the background. If it’s a real place, don’t just rely on your memory. Make sure you have done a lot of research into everything that makes your scene your scene.

  1. Know the physics of the scene.

The physics of the scene is extremely important to the believability of the story. I’ve touched on this before, but it’s definitely a point that should be brought up over and over.  If you’re describing Seattle as desert like, you had better be telling me what happened to make the Emerald City, which has an average rainfall of 36.2 inches per year drop to less than 9 inches per year.

  1. Know your colors.

You don’t have to know the name of every color on the color wheel, but you should know the difference between fuschia and olive, and if you’re describing different variants of the same color, please, for all that’s holy, do not describe one color as lighter than the blue he saw in the sky, but darker than the blue he saw on the sea. Be especially cautious if you said that the water was crystal blue, and the sky was darker than that. Use some variance here.

  1. Know how to show and not tell.

Showing and not telling is just as important for the scene as it is for your characters in the scene. We have plenty of clichés, try not to use them. If you have a “dark and stormy night”, let us know it. Let your readers feel the rumble of thunder as it shakes the house, the hot sizzle of lightning as it strikes the ground too close to where your character is walking. How does your character feel the rain? Is it icy? Is your character out in it? Does it pelt against your character’s skin or gently fall?

  1. Know how to use your words.

We are authors after all, words are our trade. If, however, you find yourself stuck, we have these wonderful tools that we use these days called dictionaries, thesauri, and even, as a last resort, the Internet. I say use the Internet as a last resort because I know writers. There’s no better place to lose an hour or two procrastinating on writing, than browsing the Internet.

Well, that covers a few of the basics, I hope to see you all there!



Aurelia Sands is a publisher for Deer Hawk Publications. Deer Hawk Publications is a small press publisher that specializes in fiction for all ages. We take pride in working with first time authors to fine tune their work for publication and teaching them the nuances and complexities of the publishing world. We have published authors with success. Our work does not stop when the book is hot off the presses, but we also help the author promote their work as well.Deer Hawk is not a vanity publisher. We work closely with our clients before final publication. While we do not provide advances at this time, we do promote and pay our authors. We want to form a working relationship with all of our authors to help them put out the best work possible. – See more at:

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One Response to SCWW Conference Faculty Guest Post: Aurelia Sands

  1. Paula Huffman says:

    Thank you for the tips, Ms. Sands! Your point about knowing a real place and researching it carefully before trying to write it into a scene was most helpful to me, as were your notes on colors. I enjoyed your post and look forward to meeting you in October.

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