Back To Basics: 3 Steps To Setting

Back To Basics: 3 Steps To Setting


As we wrap up January of the New Year, we’re looking at the three basics of fiction writing, and we’ve covered plot and character and now we’ll finish it with a look at setting.

Setting is almost like an unseen and silent character in your story – it is the ‘watermark’ on each page.

The idea is that character must add colour, context and even conflict to the story. As a writer, you must try to create a world that is extraordinary for the main character, whether that world was once familiar or is completely new.

OK, so how does it work?

Let’s continue from the examples we used for character and plot.  For our spoiled and wily heroine, the extraordinary world is a world where she has not only been rejected by her ex-boyfriend but replaced. It’s an unfamiliar emotional landscape for her.

On another level, the setting or settings for story can follow the major milestone events you will find in a calendar year — this will create a nice settings ‘palette’.

3 Ways To Get Started

  1. Write 50-100 words on three setting elements: place, time, and purpose.
  2. In the above example, the times and places could be a night club on New Year’s eve, a restaurant on Valentine’s Day, a birthday party in June, and a Halloween fancy dress party in October. The purpose could be – New Year’s Eve stirs regrets and nostalgia, Valentine’s Day is about romance, birthday parties are about growing up and maturing, and Halloween is about masks, scariness, and deception.
  3. Now add the setting elements to the synopsis you created over the last two weeks. With a little tidying up, you will have a full working synopsis of a story and all the basics to get started in 2018!

‘Every story would be another story, and unrecognisable if it took up its characters and plot and happened somewhere else.’ –Eudora Welty

If you’re looking for help with setting, buy our Setting Up The Setting Workbook.

 by Anthony Ehlers

If you enjoyed this post, read:

  1. Back To Basics: 3 Steps To Character
  2. Back To Basics: 3 Steps To Plot
  3. Write Your Novel In A Year

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