By Michael Schilf · February 13, 2010

It's one thing to understand the world of the story, but it helps to explore that world in order to discover it further, both as writer (research) and character (scene). And one very effective way to research is to write a scene. Allowing your character to experience a particular environment often helps you to understand even more subtle elements of your world.

As an exercise, write a series of short scenes in which your main character explores your world at three different times. The location is the same, but the surrounding environment carries a different atmosphere or mood each time.

Objective: Set the mood through character action.

Exercise: Write three short scenes (each 1/2 page). NO DIALOGUE. The same character walks alone through the same surroundings (interior or exterior) three different times. NO DIALOGUE. Use concise, creative description to alter the mood and atmosphere of each scene: The first time we get the feeling we're in a horror film. The second time a romance. The third time a cheerful comedy.

Hints: Use night/day, lighting, props, sounds, wardrobe, and movement. Ask where the character is coming from/going, how the character moves, what is the next scene, what same elements can be used in each scene, but to different effect?