15 February 2013

Emotional Setting In Your Story


I've decided to use some contrast and comparison techniques in a setting for chapter 8 of my WIP. One of the reasons for this is to try and stage the emotional process of an upcoming scene which happens to be an autopsy of a murdered college student.

What I don't want to happen is for the reader to view my protagonist as an unaffected, stoic police woman who, by nature of her work, would have the strength to withstand the emotional impact of certain situations which normal people would find disturbing. The police must be strong and professional, but at the same time, if they are protagonists, they must be liked.

So, where’s the setup? It's in the setting. I use the senses and innocence of small children and their actions to contrast the evils which lie ahead. I also use a subtle comparison of the living to the dead for another emotional transition. It is not the officer who is cold and stoic, but death itself.

Whether or not effective, I hope to hear one way or the other from my critique group next month. And you, of course. Please comment and let me know if it works or not.



Here's the segue into chapter 8 of my WIP:


The CafĂ© on the first level of Bradbury Memorial Hospital set itself aside from the rest of the building. If Kelly had walked into the small shop blindfolded, she would have thought she’d discovered a cake factory. The aroma of Colombian blend, mixed with caramel and brown sugar, swirled about while she made her way to the coffee station. She’d given herself a ten minute start before meeting Lyle for the autopsy of Jennifer Whorley.

She watched two small children chase each other around a table. A large woman in a wheelchair, her leg in a cast, called out to them in a southern drawl. “Ya’ll set your asses down.”

They giggled, then shrieked, but didn't sit.

“Do like your mama said!” belted out the tall man in biker gear. He had finished wheeling the woman up to the table.

The kids sat down in plastic, bucket seats. Still piping with energy, they touched each other’s arms, alternating turns.

“You’re it,” the boy said.

“No, you’re it.”

The innocence played out before her and the pit of Kelly’s stomach ached. The horrors which lurked should never occur to these children. They were protected from it. Or did it simply hide for now? Far gone were the days where there were no fears. Evil did not exist.

“You’re early.”

Kelly spun around to find Lyle holding two Styrofoam cups with cardboard sleeves around them. “Coffee?” he said. He walked with her to the condiments corner. “Are you up to this?”

“I’ll be okay.” Kelly poured some sugar in her cup and used two sticks to mix it.

“This your first autopsy?”

She avoided eye contact, “I had an infant a year ago. Died in his crib.”

“The babies are tough,” a standard response from her colleague. He checked his watch. “Ready?”

Kelly downed the last of her coffee and together they made their way to the base level above the parking garage, where Jennifer Whorley’s cold, lifeless body awaited their scrutiny.


This is still in draft, so feel free to pick it apart!


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