Jun 10

Dressing to set the scene

Dressing to set the scene


Ask the class to read the post ‘Establishing the setting’ before the class.

Focus on clothing.

It has always worked as a visual clue, on book covers (Ideally have a couple of good examples to hand) or in film for example where the period pieces are easily established, as are things like situation, eg The Ramage Books (costume establishes naval adventures at the time of Nelson on the cover) or the good cowboy always wears the white hat and the bad cowboy always wears the black hat.

Encourage members to share ideas of other examples.

It can be used to give a ‘false’ impression where it is important to the story that a person is misjudged/ stereotyped, or does not know his true status.

    • Give out copies of  (or read out) the the *opening of Tess of the D’Urbervilles and discuss. eg
      Would the reader feel some surprise when ‘Sir John’ is addressed?
    • Having read the description of one character and given that the second is on horseback would anyone have any difficulty picturing the parson?

Read the opening 20 lines of ‘The Devil Wears Prada’
Discuss what we learn about the book from just the opening.


Write an opening where you attempt to set the scene/give information/reveal the era or setting or genre…. by mentioning clothing fashion or some aspect of dress.

Bear in mind what we discussed a couple of weeks ago in ‘Creating the setting’ when we used buildings as a device to create atmosphere or give information.

Allow about 15-20 minutes.
Share and discuss.



*Tess of the D’Urbervilles
On an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blakemore, or Blackmoor.  The pair of legs that carried him were rickety, and there was a bias in his gait which inclined him somewhat to the left of a straight line.

He occasionally gave a smart nod, as if in confirmation of some opinion, though he was not thinking of anything in particular.  An empty egg-basket was slung upon his arm, the nap of his hat was ruffled, a patch being quite worn away at its brim where his thumb came in taking it off.

Presently he was met by an elderly parson astride on a gray mare, who, as he rode, hummed a wandering tune.

“Good night t’ee,” said the man with the basket.

“Good night, Sir John,” said the parson.

The pedestrian, after another pace or two, halted, and turned round.


Category:Group Session. Tags: Description, setting, openings


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