Scene Setting Prompts for Writing Great Sims | UFOP: StarBase 118 Star Trek RPG

Scene Setting Prompts for Writing Great Sims

Share this:

Setting the scene well is important because it’s what brings the environment to life and can transport the reader to strange and new places. It can spark the imagination, add depth and help hold the reader’s interest. Setting the scene can set the tone for what’s to come and you can give the same environment a different feel with the descriptions you use. Compare the following:

((Abandoned Settlement, Uncharted M-Class Planet))

::The five man away team beamed down to the abandoned colony; their goal was to search for any clues about why the settlement was abandoned and where the people may have gone to. They materialised in a small cobblestone courtyard and there was a cluster of buildings off to the right, which may have been houses, and a much larger building dead ahead of them. ::

((Abandoned Settlement, Uncharted M-Class Planet))

::The five man away team beamed down to the abandoned colony; their goal was to search for any clues about why the settlement was abandoned and where the people may have gone to. They materialised in a small, weed ridden, dusty cobblestone courtyard. There was a cluster of rundown buildings with chipped and peeling paintwork off to the right. They had broken roofing and boarded up windows, they might have been houses once. A much larger building, with weeds trailing from the guttering and trying to climb up to the windows, lay dead ahead of them. It seemed a long time since anyone had lived here and the place had gone to ruin. ::

((Abandoned Settlement, Uncharted M-Class Planet))

::The five man away team beamed down to the abandoned colony; their goal was to search for any clues about why the settlement was abandoned and where the people may have gone to. They materialised in a small, well-kept cobblestone courtyard. There was a cluster of buildings with unblemished, fresh paintwork off to the right. They had well maintained flower boxes and clean windows; they might have been houses once. A much larger building with a gleaming name plaque lay dead ahead of them. It seemed the place was well maintained, that people took pride in it, and to look at it you’d think the population had vanished in the night. ::

There are three different descriptions of the same place. The settlement layout is the same and very little has been added to the second and third versions of the scene. With just a few simple descriptions the second and third scenes paint very different pictures. The second depicts a settlement that may have been long abandoned – or which was never well maintained. The third depicts a clean, well-kept place that seems too well looked after to be long abandoned. You also question why a whole population would want to leave someplace that’s so nice. You could see the plot panning out differently in each case and they bring different questions to mind. Both are more interesting to read than the first and as you can see it doesn’t have to take a lot to bring a little more to you scene setting.

The following is a list of prompts to refer to when setting the scene. Not all of them should be used in every scene, instead take them as inspiration and see how asking questions about where your character is, how they relate to the scene and the overall story can help you write more in-depth, engaging descriptions.

Where does the scene take place?
What do the immediate surroundings look like?
What is the weather like (if they are outdoors)?
What time of day is it?
How does the character feel emotionally?
What do they feel physically ?
What do they hear and do the sounds remind them of anything?
What do your own and other characters’ facial expressions look like?
What are they physically doing at the moment?
Do the current events or scene remind them of anything else?
What can they smell and do the smells remind them of anything?
Can your character taste anything?

About Kalianna Nicholotti

Fleet Captain Kalianna Nicholotti has been a member of the Starbase 118 Fleet now for over five years and she still loves it just as much as she did when she joined. The joys of writing for a character that's truly come to life, coupled with the friends she's met throughout the Fleet, has made 118 a part of her daily life.
View all posts by Kalianna Nicholotti