by Tegwyn Hughes
Artwork by Katie King
Life is full of settings: your house, school, the park near your home. Every story has one or more settings that are important to the character and the development of the plot. I’ve chosen my fair share of settings, from a fictional kingdom at war to a hospital emergency room full of patients. Planning a good setting can take a lot of trial and error, and a surprising amount of research.
Here are three tips to help you make your setting, and your story, perfect.
Detail, Detail, Detail!
Detail is one of the most important parts of a setting because it gives your readers a deeper understanding of the character’s surroundings. I could set a story by writing “Isaac lived in a house,” but that sounds boring and unoriginal. I need to add more detail, and capture the attention of my reader. E.g. “Isaac’s house was the oldest one on the block. Vines creeped up the crumbling brick walls, and curled around the windows of the upstairs bedrooms. He’d been living there since his family had moved to Detroit, seven years ago.”
Adding detail is all about imagery, providing your reader with an image in their mind of what you are describing. Without it, your setting can be bland and insubstantial.
Get Your Facts Straight
Is your story set on the wild moors of Scotland? Then look it up. In order to have a properly detailed setting, you need to know the right facts. Even in a fictional story, there are probably going to be things in your setting that are based on the real world.
Imagine that you are writing a story about two woodland fairies who save their forest from an evil spirit. What type of trees surround them? If you write, “Aeva and Roson lived in the tallest baobab tree around and nested in it’s comfy branches at night,” you might want to check out where baobabs come from: Africa!
An African Baobab tree isn’t exactly the type of tree that grows in a dense forest. Instead, you could find out which trees actually do grow in these forests, like maple or pine trees. Research is key if you want your story to be well planned and nicely written.
What Does Your Character See?
The views and feelings of the main character should change the way the scene is described to the audience. Is your character a puppy that has just been adopted by a family? Talk about its first view of this new house. “I wagged my tail with delight as I scampered around my huge new home, admiring the towering ceiling, the lush carpet underneath my paws, and the soft furniture I couldn’t wait to play on.”
From the description, you get to see the setting, the puppy’s new home, through its eyes. This way, not only do you get a description of the setting, but you get some insight into the story’s main character.
A good setting takes a lot more than detail, research, and point of view, but these tips will certainly give you a good start on writing an even better story. Good luck, and happy writing.
Tegwyn Hughes is a 15 year old Canadian writer. She has wanted to be a writer since the second grade. She says, “To me, writing means sharing yourself with your audience, and incorporating pieces of your personality into everything you create. I try to make everything I write part of who I am.”