Set Your Scene

If you were throwing a party, where would you hold it? Would it be at your house? In the living room? Or, backyard? Would your party be at the small, family restaurant down the street? Or, would you host it at the convention center? Oh, what were you saying, you are more of a party-goer, rather than a party-thrower…well, that will not make a difference…you still need a place to go and enjoy the celebration. This is true for the setting of your story. You need a location from which to center your characters. You need a place in which to make the rain or snow fall. You need a setting in which to place your chairs, buildings, or rivers. Choose wisely as the setting can cause you more anxiety as a writer than the characters…imagine a story about a space cadet without going into outer space. Imagine people being trapped without food in the middle of a snow-capped mountain without the snow or treacherous valley. Here are a few quick suggestions for settings…

1) Revisit places you have lived, vacationed, or passed through. Those familiar or unique places are just waiting to have a story set around them. Each of the houses you laid your head in contain tales around you, your family, or the builders who constructed it. If you ventured through a large city and rode up in the elevators of a glass-coated skyscraper, you have a unique setting for an action adventure. If you have driven to your vacation destination and stayed at a simple hotel where the water pressure was so low, you ended up taking a shower in the sink, you have a perfect spot for a mystery, a family comedy, or a traveling movie. Think of the things that fit your story. Think of the furniture that aligns to your subject.

2) Research the timeline or location. If you are setting your story in an environment that has happened already or is yet to occur, make sure you research your time frame. When choosing a setting in the past, make sure you don’t introduce a machine gun in the middle of the old west. While this one is obvious, you put the hands of intrigue and believability into minds of people who are not as connected to your ideas as you are. This is good if you are dealing with science fiction or creating your own fantasy realm, but a challenge if you wish to pull in history buffs. If the time is yet to come, connect your objects and places to familiar items to help your readers remember the locations without actually being there.

3) Close your eyes and be a part of your world after you have written the first draft. You read it correctly, close your eyes…Try it. Start reading your chapter. As you get to objects or locations, stop and close your eyes. Imagine that you are your characters. What else do you see? Is there something around you that stands out? Is a corner darker than the rest of the room? Is the alley lit with different colored bulbs starting in the middle? Is snow falling from a tree instead of the more familiar cloud? Once you have a few more details, go back and add in some of these specifics. They will help you bring in your readers and enhance the storyline itself. Who knows, these abnormalities or specifics may become a part of that twist you have planned in chapter 8…
Of course, if none of these points help with choosing your setting, venture over to the library, find some travel guide and picture books, and jump in…Write and enjoy…