Setting the Setting (get it?)

Another, much later, installment of my writing series: how to write setting.

It’s actually quite simple, really. This is the where of your novel.

Setting is actually the thing I have the most trouble with – not so much figuring out the setting on a large scale but the details. I’ve been better (and I’m actually proud of the setting of my current WIP because ALL THE DETAILS, bros) but I can always improve.

While I might not be the utmost expert on this topic, I do have a degree in Creative Writing. Therefore, it’s okay to listen to me.

When planning out a setting, we’re going to use my guy Dave from Finding Your Plot.

Little refresher on Dave: Dave is an unemployed loser who crushes on the cashier at the local supermarket. He lives with his parents after a brief period away (maybe having been successful at some point) and they have a cat. Whilst looking for the cat, he finds a mini planet under his parents’ bed.

As you can see, I already sort of have some setting. There’s a local supermarket and there’s a parent’s house.

Very basic, yes, and so you need more information.

This is best by asking a series of questions. I feel like by asking questions you force yourself to give answers.

Ask yourself the following:

Where is my story taking place?

This is the most obvious, probably. A big part, and the main part, of setting is the where. I’m going to have Dave live in a small Christian-dominant town, with parents that are Christian, mostly because of the whole alien thing and also because I’m one for dramatic comedy. Your character can live in a cave during the Ice Age – or can they? – or literally anywhere you want them to live. Your story, your rules.

What time is my story taking place?

This can mean anything. Dave is living in the modern day. Your character might be living in the prehistoric era. Dave’s story starts at five in the afternoon on a Sunday in the middle of August. Your character’s story might start at two in the morning on a Friday in the middle of October. Why does this matter? Time is a placement and time is also a great way to push the story along. Which is why setting exists at all – to place your story and to push it.

These are the questions you ask yourself. Sure, you can add stuff like other characters that add to the flavor of the place but all you need to know to get a setting out is the when and where. 

Did you like this post or find it useful? Have any questions about setting or anything else related to writing? Feel free to like this post or comment below!

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