Setting creates a mood.
She sat in the new McDonald's on Main and actually typed that sentence in order to better think about it.
Setting is mega-important to the reader and, ipso facto, to the writer. Chapter One: Time of day, what the sky looks like, is the air hot or cold, the ground wet or dry? Choose your words carefully and blah, blah blah.
Setting creates . . .
She sipped from her Diet Coke and stared at the opposite wall, which was emblazoned with a monster-sized glossy pic of an apple. She blinked and looked around, as though wakened from a dream, at the sand-colored walls, the spindly black stools, the elegant brown cloth window shades.
And she thought, “What in the pluperfect hell has happened to our McDonald's?”
(“Pluperfect” is a lush, gorgeous word. She typed that, too.)
This McDonald's, she thought, is where we used to hang out. Three kids and all their friends and a single mom who paid for Happy Meals with change out of a tip jar. The walls were red and yellow, then! Ronald himself grinned maniacally from a picture over the counter and nobody, nobody counted the freaking calories in the chicken mcnuggets. Those Happy Meals were absolutely grease-soaked. The air reeked of fryer oil, the floor was sticky as carnival taffy, and there were no window shades. The sky out that window was always shiny, hard blue as ceramic, and the people in here were happy, even if one of the kids dumped their pop-not-milk, because . . .
The walls weren’t brown.
And those cheap red plastic booths were just perfect.
Setting creates a mood.
Of course, the proper setting for a writer is a quiet area with beigey-poop tones and maybe apples. And quiet. The sunshine should stay just the other side of that window shade.
Chapter One . . .
But she missed the glaring colors and the fly-strip floor. McDonald's felt all wrong without Ronald, even though he had always creeped her out just a little. The calories posted above the counter and fruit pictures - what the hell were they going for, Starbucks meets Planet Fitness? And why is nobody smiling?
Because, well, McDonald's is no longer our happy place.
Incorporating wifi and blended coffee drinks was at a cost of something far less tangible.
The writer closed her laptop and primly disposed of her fruit (what the hell?) cup before approaching the counter again. She ordered a nasty, sloppy Big Mac and a Happy Meal toy - troll! Purple hair! And she left McDonald's determined to keep her future visits on a drive-through basis only.
Setting is imperative, she thought, but not necessarily beige.