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How to Write the Setting for a Story


Setting is essential to a story because it helps put your readers on familiar ground with your characters. It explores the time, the place, and the elements surrounding your character.

Include enough detail to let your readers picture the scene but only details that actually add something to the story. For example, do not describe all the steps of Jane locking the front door, walking across the yard, opening the garage door, checking the tires on her car, putting her seatbelt and driving down the driveway--none of these details matter except that she drove out of the driveway without looking down the street first.

Choosing the right kind of description is vital. You don't need to say how many exact miles it is to the grocery store. Instead, describe the walk - what other scenery does the character pass by? Is the character under time restrictions to reach their destination? Is the weather slowly them down? Things like this describe the walk to the grocery store much better than simply saying "It took Susie half an hour to walk the 4 miles to the store."

Use two or more senses in your descriptions of setting. Don't just talk about the way it looks, also mention how it might smell or feel or sound. Bring your reader into the setting; make them a part of it. "Show" don't "Tell."

Don't just describe what the place looks like. If your character is outside add the weather into the scene. Now, don't just put in a sentence that "The wind was blowing." Describe how it interacts with your characters. For example, "The wind tossed Carrie's brown curls around her face." That added an actual image for the reader to see.

Tips
  • Remember to "Show" the scene, don't just "Tell" it.
  • You don't need to describe what every single room looks like in detail. Sometimes all you need is a few things about the room. Some scenes need to focus on other details so don't get lost in describing your setting. It's important but not in every scene.
Warning
  • Avoid too much or too little detail - this can make your story boring or drawn out.
Items you will need
Imagination
Pen and Paper
Computer/Typewriter
Story Outline and Notes
About the Author

This article was created by a professional writer and edited by experienced copy editors, both qualified members of the Demand Media Studios community. All articles go through an editorial process that includes subject matter guidelines, plagiarism review, fact-checking, and other steps in an effort to provide reliable information.

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