The Key To Writing (better) Immersion
Q: What’s the key to writing better (story) immersion?
Environment. There, I saved you about what, 5 to 10 minutes worth of reading? The key to writing better immersion is the environment. Write a good environment, and the world you create world will be much better. Good day. (Keep reading this is a joke.)
Long answer :
Environment, or more specifically the environment you place your character in, and here’s why.
The environment can help bridge the gap from our world to the one the author creates. As we follow the characters in the story it serves as a unique backdrop and has the power to make a story much more enjoyable.
When used well, it can make action scenes feel tenser, and emotional moments all the more beautiful. It can leave us in awe with the bizarre landscapes of Sci-Fi, and breathtaking scenery of fantasy novels.
So, the answer to better immersing your reader is simply to write an interesting environment?
Well to be fair, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Like many parts of writing a story, immersion and environment, in general, can be a pain to write, and if you’re anything like me, it’s not because you can’t picture it in your mind.
Rather, it’s because when it’s time to put the words to the paper your details turn into messy, disjointed sentences that disturb the flow of the story and suck your readers out of the experience.
I do know a thing or two about solving this problem, so here are a few brief tips to make your story’s environment(s) more immersive.
- Research – After you pick out an environment, do some research. If your writing about something you know nothing about, it can and most likely will come off as weird and alien.
Ex: Story takes place in a laboratory? Maybe learn about lab equipment or standards.
Ex: A bustling city? If you don’t live in one, maybe see if you can drop by every once in a while to kind of get a feel.
Can’t visit the location or don’t know where to look for info?
No problem, the computer you’re reading this on may be of some assistance to look up the things you need.
2. Try to capture the moment. The best way I can describe this is to picture yourself in your character’s shoes and try to capture how it might feel to be in that situation.
Ex1: When you walk into a bakery the first thing that hits you the smell of baked goods. So, when a character walks into a bakery, so why not describe the sweet smell wafting towards their nostrils, or the gorgeous array of frosting tipped cakes and pastries lined up at the counter.
Ex2: When you walk on the beach think of the grainy, coarse sand passing through your toes, or the hot sun beaming down on your back. (Also consider the water, there could be cool waves lapping against the sand, or fierce waves crashing against the shore.)
Also, make sure your descriptions make sense! In reality, chances are you wouldn’t react the same in a spooky forest the same way you in a grocery store, and neither should your character.
(Trust me, I’ve read stories where a character has either stilted or weird reactions to their environment. Not just in online stories, but actual published works such as novels.)
- Don’t cram all your details into one sentence- It won’t only slow down the pace, but it can come off as confusing, and tiring to read. My suggestion is to spread out your details in your writing.
For example, if you wanted to describe a kitchen, perhaps in disarray you could give a brief description of the stained counter-top and faded wallpaper in one scene.
Then, later in the scene have the character notice something like a broken toaster, or comment on the unwashed coffee pot near the piles of dirty dishes. (Also, if your character revisits the room, maybe sprinkle in a few more details.)
Just don’t clutter so many descriptions into a few sentences, there are many ways to go about tackling this. (You can read more about over detailing this here in my previous blog post: Over-Detailing )
4. World-building- It’s a great idea to plan out exactly where you’re going to plan out where your characters are actually going to inhabit.
I mean this in great detail, like what’s the flora and fauna like, the weather, climate, culture, the languages are spoken, etc.
Depending on what genre your story is and how much focus you plan on putting in your world development, the amount of world-building you actually do will vary.
Also, while we’re still on the subject, consider making an official map to go with your story, especially if you’re writing a fantasy! Many readers like maps and make it easier for them to picture your world, and follow your story.
Well, that’s all for now! Was this post informative, or a bit confusing? Or maybe I need to go into more detail with some points on immersion or environment?
Whatever you think I’d like to know your thoughts down in the comments below! In the end, the story you write is yours. How you choose to describe and create your world is ultimately up to you. Happy writing, and Until next time!