Wr.Tu.Th: Setting

We’re due for a new installment of Writing Tutorial Thursday. This week’s theme is setting.

Writing Tutorial: The Setting

Disclaimer: The information presented herein is based on what I, personally, have learned in my educational and professional careers. This tutorial is simply meant to offer some helpful tips.

INTRODUCTION: So you have an amazing plot and some really awesome characters. Where are you going to put them? Setting is especially important in works of fiction so that the reader has a proper stage in which to imagine your story play out. Now it’s time to figure out the where, when, what details of your novel’s backdrop. What are a few tips to remember when figuring out your story’s setting, though? Have no fear, I’m here to help!

1) One of the first things you may want to do is to imagine the world of your story. Brainstorm. Remember some fundamentals:

  • time (historical, time of day, year, etc.)
  • geography (natural and man-made)
  • climate and weather
  • specific location (country, state, neighborhood, etc.)

2) Show, don’t tell. When describing your setting to readers, don’t just say it was “a rainy Wednesday.” Say the monotonous pitter-patter on the windows added to the dreary weekday afternoon. Use imagery, metaphor, simile and other literary devices to add excitement to your writing.

3) Use your characters to present setting. A good way to bring the setting to your reader is through the eyes of your character. Make your reader feel the spring breeze, hear the truck down the street, and cough in the smoky, crowded cafe. Use your character’s five senses to describe the backdrop of a scene.

4) Use details that make sense to the plot. Your setting should tie into the plot. You wouldn’t want to write a story about a playground bully but have the setting be a circus. That just doesn’t make sense. Make sure the setting of each scene in your novel is there for a reason.

5) It’s all about balance. It’s important to remember not to overwhelm your chapters with pages of setting descriptions. Your setting is meant to be a backdrop, remember? It should only be there as a stage where the main performers act out the play. If you find yourself writing paragraphs about a room, sit back and think about what’s most important about the room. Sure it’s an old room, but maybe it’s the creepy painting over the fireplace. Focus on that.

Do you have any other suggestions? Questions? Let me know. As always, the way to better writing is by practicing!

Until next time. Happy writing!

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