While starting to write a story, many writers focus their time and attention on plots and characters, and as an afterthought, throw in some details on the location of the story. However, an effective setting for your story is an essential element of your book, and a great setting can have a powerful visual and sensory impact on the reader, which can linger long after the words have been forgotten.
Some of the things you need to know to create an effective setting for your book are:
1. Role of the Setting in your Book
First, you need to decide just how much and how deeply the setting will feature in your plot. This will help you to determine the level of detail and intricacy of the setting to be created.
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In some books, a setting can be merely a great backdrop where the action takes place. However, in many great books, the setting is so important to the plot that it takes on the role of a character in the book. An example is that of the epic fantasy series ‘Lord of the Rings’ written by JRR Tolkien. An entire ‘Middle Earth’ is so beautifully created and so skillfully woven into the story by the author, that fans cannot imagine the story unfolding anywhere else.
2. What Kind of Setting to Have in your Book
Settings are more than just locations. Your story can be based on settings like seasons, times, geographical elements (sea-side, mountains), climate, historical eras, and even cultural or political environments. Any of the elements can play an important role in shaping your story, and you can use several different types of settings to add layers and depth to your story.
3. Use Settings to Create Atmosphere, Moods and Tension
If the setting is used appropriately, it can build up atmosphere or set the mood or create any tension necessary for your plot. For example, Stephen King’s famous horror novel ‘The Shining’ is set in an isolated hotel which is so important in adding to the scary effect, that it is actually as memorable as the lead character.
4. Plan the Setting First
By having a good layout map for your story before you start writing, you will find that it becomes easier to fill in the little details in your book as you go along. For example, you have a story about a trio of pre-teen kids in a coming-of-age kind of story, and you have set it in the summer holidays and in a suburban neighborhood. Now you can have them throwing on shorts and t-shirts, playing out on the streets unsupervised, setting up lemonade stands, and other details that can almost be included by default for summer and suburbia, but would not be possible in other settings.
5. Final Tips
It is easier to write about what you know than to create something new or spend time researching. You can start by setting your story in places or themes that you are familiar with. Try to use details like names (real or imaginary) for your settings to make them more real to the reader. But do try not to get too bogged down in long, unnecessary descriptions. Finally, ensure that your settings reveal something about the character or help the plot in some way. Plots, characters and settings working harmoniously together will result in a great book.
Image credit: Ian Wilson on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CS_Rajan.jpg [/author_image] [author_info]CS Rajan is a freelance writer who loves to write on various topics, and is currently working on her first novel. [/author_info] [/author]