Setting The Scene

Coming up with interesting settings, and using them effectively can be a difficult step for many fiction writers. Below you”ll find some creative exercises to help you make the most of setting in your fiction.

  • Start a “setting” journal.

    Begin looking at the world around you with a writer”s eye. Make observations about everyday details, such as weather, topography, flora and fauna. But also make note of emotional connections, unusual metaphors, descriptive phrases, sensory responses—anything and everything your observe and experience can be used in your fiction at some point. Start researching foreign or historical settings of interest to you and note your findings in your journal. Keep track of resources such as reference books, articles, Web sites, etc. for additional follow-up. If your setting research sparks any story or character ideas; be sure to note those as well.

  • From memory, write a descriptive paragraph of a room in your house

    Once you”ve finished, take your paragraph to that room and read it, comparing your description with what you see. What changes would you make? You can also use the workplace, or someone else”s house as inspiration.

    Every room has a personality, every room gives off some sort of emotional intensity. A living room may be sterile and make a visitor feel unwelcome. A bedroom might be excessively frilly and make a visitor feel smothered. With that in mind, go to any room in your house. Just as if that room were a character, select the one object in that room that best conveys the room”s personality. Describe that object in such a way that the reader feels the emotional effect of that room.

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