The first task is to share a setting that stopped my heart. This song feels like a poem set to music, and is partly about a setting:
This speaks to me because it is so vivid. I feel like I’m there, in Australia, seeing what he sees.
The second task option is to share a scene under 1,000 words long from your current WIP.
THIS IS A DRAFT VERSION, NOT A FINAL EDIT. It is from The Dagger in the Darkrise, which is a dark, high fantasy for adults. This scene takes place near the end of the novel.
Alison leaned against the defensive wall that marked the border to her homeland. The first rays of morning light reflected off the glossier armor that covered the huge stones. A dragon roared in the distance. Her patron dragon. She took a deep breath, fooling herself into believing that she could pick up her dad’s scent. His silvery-white armor, fastened to its permanent home here on Zenika’s Bulwark, was her last connection to a stable life.
Eighty-eight suits of dragon scale armor lined this exterior part of the wall. The Fallen Generals Last Stand was what they called this section. One day her armor would be here as well. Alison ran her fingers to the only other black suit ever worn. It sucked in the light, taking it hostage without the possibility of escape, just like hers did. Touching the dark armor on the wall caused her stomach to knot and ears to ring.
“Neither of us belongs here,” she said to the suit. “We’re like the bugs that eat dead flesh. Was that how you felt, I wonder, when the armor of Darkstar was given to you? Vital to survival, but cringed at when discussed.”
“I don’t cringe.”
Alison drew her sword. She spun in a slow, tight circle, searching the area. As she returned to face the black armor, Drake’s head appeared. His calming scent of pine and moss toyed with her nose.
Those eyes, two solid black jewels, two mysterious enigmas, intoxicated her. She took his hand as he stepped out of the darkness. “Where did you, how did you?” She looked past him to the armor.
“My dear Alison, I move through spaces you cannot even conceive of,” Drake said. His light green fingers ran through her golden hair.
“That’s how you’ve been sneaking in, isn’t it? This is your entrance, this suit of armor.”
He gave a gentle laugh. “One mystery solved, a million to go. Yes, Darkstar’s scales create a sort of doorway, and my magic is a like a key.” Drake walked her toward his forest.
The untamed mass of greens invited the couple. Drips from an unrecorded drizzle cleansed them of the harshness they so recently endured. Here in this refreshing land of ancient trees, peaceful beasts, and sprawling plants and flowers lived secrets unknown to any human. Alison removed her smoky-crystal visor. This was the only outside place she knew of where her impaired eyes were protected flawlessly by the dense shade.
A tree with a trunk too large to see around rose to the center of the canopy. Leaves flourished not only on branches but on the trunk itself, disguising its base as a treacherous bush of poison. Animals and insects alike avoided this area. The light, even as filtered as it was, took on a sinister shimmering quality. Alison touched the edge of one leaf. She let out a small gasp. The leaf reddened, absorbing drops of her blood from the tiny cut it inflicted.
“Now you see why I left the door open last time.” Drake pulled her fingers to his lush, dark green lips and kissed the tiny wound. “That’s a beautiful color on your cheeks. I hope to see it more often.”
She nibbled on her lower lip as she turned her head. The tip of her boot made a semi-circle dent in the forest floor. His finger slid under her chin but did not force it up. He waited, as patient as the trees that surrounded them, for her to meet his gaze.
“Are you going to invite me inside, or will we stay out here being dripped on forever?” She wrinkled her nose. He laughed. The sound blended with the music of the forest as if he were part bird, part beast, and part rustling leaf in a breeze.
“I gave you a key. Was that not invitation enough?” He motioned to the trinket she wore. “Ah, you still can’t see the door, can you?”
His finger danced along her skin like a bee seeking pollen. There was a small sting just above her left ear. She winced, though it was almost unperceivable. He told her to blink a few times. Once she had, the whole forest shifted.
Nothing had actually changed, she assumed. But now, where before she saw only green, there was a rainbow of colors, some she couldn’t even name. An energetic indigo outline stimulated her vision and filled her with a desire to draw nearer. It hummed as she did so.
“Color that makes sound?” Alison asked.
“It gets better,” Drake replied, pressing her trinket into her hand.
She eased the tiny treasure toward the enchanting color. The smell of baked bread and her favorite eel stew wafted around her. As she inhaled, the scent changed. It was pine and moss. No, there was more. It was him. She gave him a sidelong glance.
“Will you tell me one day what you smell when unlocking my door?”
“Don’t you know?”
He laughed and shrugged. “For the longest time, I couldn’t identify it. Then I met you.” His arm wrapped around her waist. He nuzzled her hair and sniffed. “As it unlocks it gives off whatever scent the opener finds most pleasing.”
I hope you enjoyed my selection. I find the portions of the defensive wall that are improved by armor and the forest Drake lives in to be my favorite areas in the setting. This scene happens to have both. General feedback is welcome. This is just the draft version, as I said. But I always welcome thoughts to help the story improve.
The current Smashwords coupon code for Preparing to Write Settings That Feel Like Characters is: KU89T