Emotions -- Settings

One of the best way to reveal character emotions and personality is to have a character respond to the setting rather than simply describe it.

Setup: The heroine is Betty, with an abusive past, visiting her parents' home for the first time in years.

The crystal-paned bay windows followed her with a malevolent gaze as she approached the front double doors, as if to mock her for being forced to return after all these years. She imagined the white columns as teeth about the chew her up. Even the sunlight stung her skin. She forced her feet onward, step by step, keeping her eyes lowered to the blood-red flowers dripping down either side of the concrete walkway. The stiff wind from the bay slapped her cheeks and jerked her hair around her face. Why did she have to come back here?

The reader gets a picture of the setting, but they also get the character’s emotional response to it. Suddenly it’s not just a setting, it’s an emotional experience for the reader. They feel the character’s reaction, get glimpses into the character’s backstory, and extend sympathy for the character.

Look through your manuscript for a paragraph of setting description here or there, and see how you can make your viewpoint character emotionally respond to the setting.