Forced to marry Lord Aymon to ensure her young nephew’s survival, English Lady Laila vows undying hatred for the Norman she holds responsible for the deaths of so many innocents. Discovering Aymon has committed an act of treason gives her the chance to seek vengeance he deserves. But can Laila let Aymon die at the hands of the king once she learns the truth?
A hardened Norman warrior, Lord Aymon has lived through atrocities no man ever should. With the invasion of England over, all he wants is a quiet life and a wife who will give him heirs and obey his every command. Instead, he finds himself wed to feisty and outspoken Laila. But when she learns the truth of his treasonous act, can Aymon count on her to keep his secret?
Many years ago, when I first started learning the craft of writing, someone said to me, ‘treat your setting like you would any other character in your story’. At first, I didn’t exactly understand what was meant by that. After all, is setting really that important? Do we really need to give it as much attention as our hero and heroine’s character? Yes, and yes. We do.
You see, setting isn’t just about where the story takes place. Setting, and its characteristics, can really add dimension to your scene and story as a whole. What do I mean by this?
Well, take a forest for example. Yes, it’s full of trees, and you could easily leave it at that. But, a forest is so much more than that. Let’s use the five scenes to create a character for our forest.
Think about what you would see in a forest. There are wild mushrooms, sap crusts, spider webs, and thick underbrush, to name but a few.
What would you hear in a forest? Squawking birds, groaning trees, animal screeches, or the scrabbling of lizards on tree bark. Think back to the last time you were in the forest. What did you hear?
Personally, I love the smell of a forest. It’s richly scented with wild flowers, and the minty, pine, honey scent of eucalyptus trees. But, the forest can also smell unpleasant. There are stagnant pools of water, dead animals, and the foul smell of animal dung.
What about the taste of a forest? Now, before you run off into the forest, in the name of research, to find out the tastes of a forest, just be careful not to pop random berries or leaves into your mouth for obvious reasons! Think about what can be found in the forest? What does a mushroom taste like? Are berries sweet or sour? And what would pine needle tea taste like?
Have you ever ran through a forest? What did the leaves feel like as they brushed against your sleeveless arms, or as you brushed up against the rough bark of a tree? How does the soft forest breeze feel against your heated skin, or the hot, muggy, thick unmoving air, that makes your clothes stick to your body?
Of course, the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches of a forest in winter will be greatly different to a forest in summer, or spring, or autumn. They will even be different between morning, noon and evening. And do not get me started on a forest in the dead of night. SPOOKY!
Do you see, just by really thinking about each of the senses, our forest that is just full of trees, really takes on a life of its own? It comes alive and your readers will feel as if they are there in the forest with your characters.
One last point. As a rule of thumb, I tend to use at least two (three if possible) of the five senses in every scene.
Here is an example from my own writing. This piece is taken from my latest release, Of Love and Vengeance.
The sun was warm on Laila’s back, and she closed her eyes and sighed as the cool, clean crisp water slipped over her bare feet. The mud, sticky and thick, squished between her curled toes. The low hum of insects and trill of birds filled the otherwise quiet clearing.
She stood poised in the middle of the stream, her skirts hitched up around her thighs and her bow and arrow at the ready, as she waited for tonight’s evening meal to swim by. She winced as the sharp edge of a rock bit into the fleshy under sole of her foot. But she did not dare move.
Now, I could have very easily written the scene as:
She stood poised in the middle of the stream, her bow and arrow at the ready, as she waited for tonight’s evening meal to swim by.
See the difference, aside from the increased word count!
Why not pick out a scene you’re currently working on and think about the setting. How many of the five senses have you used? Can you add more depth to your scene by getting to know your setting?
If you’re feeling brave, why not share a paragraph or two that clearly shows the characteristics of your setting by using at least three of the five senses?
Laila heard them long before she saw them. Their angry, frenzied shouts and thunderous roars filled her ears. With her hands tied securely behind her, she was dragged up the lane toward Tyburn Gallows, where she was to be hanged for a crime she did not commit. The mob sounded blood thirsty. Large. Frightening.
There was no sign of Aymon. Or Hugh. Had they left her alone to die?
Her chin trembled and her nails dug into her palms.
She suddenly fell to her knees and screamed until she tasted blood at the back of her throat. She kicked out and tried to crawl free as her hair was almost torn from the roots as she was pulled up and shoved along the lane.
Her eyes burned with her tears.
“I am innocent!” Laila screamed.
They came around a corner, and that’s when she saw them. There must have been a least two thousand men, women, and children, hungry for her blood. And when they saw her, they erupted into a wild fever of roars and cries for a slow and painful death. Their thirst had been piqued, and now it must be sated.
Laila was shoved into the center of the clearing.
She glanced wildly around in a desperate search for Aymon’s towering, bulky frame. She could not see him.
But what she could see was the Tyburn Tree. The gallows she was to be hanged from. The executioner, hooded, stood beside the tree as he waited patiently for her. Laila’s mouth suddenly went dry.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Louise grew up in country Victoria, Australia, before moving to England, where for sixteen years she soaked up the vibrancy of London and the medieval history of England. She has since returned to Australia and now lives in Melbourne.
She has been writing the moment she picked up a copy of Diana Gabaldon's first Outlander novel twenty something years ago. She thought to herself, 'this is what I want to do' - not travel back in time, but become a novelist! She has always had snippets of dialogue and scenes floating around in her head with characters screaming at her to bring them to life.
In 2013, Louise won first prize in the Crested Butte Sandy Writing contest – Historical category for her story, The Promise, which is now called, Of Love and Vengeance.
When not writing, she can be found covered in mud, crawling under barbed wire and hoisting herself over twelve foot walls - under the guise of competing in Spartan races all over Australia.
Louise will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn host.
The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:a Rafflecopter giveaway