There’s a reason these two gentlemen recieve such acclaim for their writing – they never fail to set the stage. The Best Sellers have learned to create the scene before the play starts and the audience is deeply involved way before they get 1/3 of the way through.
I’ve been beta-reading lately and it’s the one thing I see most often – I’m 1/3 of the way through the story before I can visualize the places and the “feel” of the setting. And when I get to the end I know how to weave the story using bits and pieces of the end. Oh, to write the beginning over – to grab the reader from the very first sentence and build until the climax.
In defense of writers, they have the story in their head. They know the place, the family, company, group, and they know the end. When they get done, some need to start again – this time describing the scene, family, and spirits to fit the ending. Tell me what the homestead looks and feels like. Describe where the story unfolds, the country, region, etc. Remember it’s a global market today and not every reader will know your country.
Talk about the weather, history, current events. Compare and contrast that to yesterday or tomorrow. Create a hidden character whose shoes can be filled by your reader. Most of my beta-writers can tell the story, and keep me reading to the end. Setting the stage seems to be much harder.