The sky allowed only a few rays to break through, casting a glow on the pavement ahead. The road stretched on for what seemed like forever, disappearing over the hills to unknown lands. The car’s radio was playing the typical things, pop music, country, and whatever else she felt like listening to. All she knew was that her hometown sucked and she needed a new place to go.
Welcome to part two of four of my mini-series for creating stories! Tonight I’m going to talk about setting and how you can include the characters you made from the advice I gave last time into your new setting.
Okay, so you have your character and you know him/her inside and out. Great! Now where do you place them?
There’s many different settings you can place a character, whether it be in the realm of fantasy or reality is up to you, though. If you plan on writing a story of fiction, placing them in the realm of reality – a familiar place – is something to think about because writing from experience is actually something that I have often read about as advice when writing a story.
If you decide to write in a realm of fantasy, be sure to keep in mind the climate, the culture, the flora and fauna that belong to that world, and more. Think about your favorite sci-fi movie or novel and how the directors and producers (and the rest) made the world come to life. You obviously don’t have to include every single little detail in your own story, but writing down everything in a separate log will help you to remember just what is included in the world you’re creating.
If you create from reality, be sure to also know the same types of things that you would have to know for a fantasy world – culture, food, flora and fauna, etc. For a beginner, you might want to consider writing in reality because it might be easier to write from what you know.
When creating a setting, there are a few things to consider:
- Keep it within a small range. Unless you’re writing a story about pirates (which you should do research on, if you are), try to keep the location of your story down between one to three areas. You don’t want to over-complicate things by making your character go from Boston to Cairo, Egypt to Manhattan all within the same chapter – unless it’s relevant.
- Write down everything. You’re going to want to write down everything you can think of about the setting you’re placing your character, from their home to their room to their car (if they have one) to the outside world. Do they have a magazine collection? What does their car look like, smell like? Has he/she ever been to the other side of the state? Write it down!
- Show what your setting looks like, don’t tell us what it looks like. Instead of saying that there was a “red house with white shutters and a white porch,” show us what it looks like, for example, “The house was dull from years of rain and whether, the red paint chipping away onto the clean porch.” It’s okay to not tell us the color of every little thing that’s in the setting – give us what we need, but show us, don’t tell us.
- How does the character act in this setting? Take your main character and place them in the setting you’re thinking of. Do they fit in? How do they feel when they’re there? Are there a lot of memories for them there? Do they associate some event with the location? Write it down and incorporate it into your story if you like.
Though these are just a few tips, there are always hundreds of thousands of resources you can find out there on the Internet and in libraries and bookstores. But for the sake of my mini-series, try to utilize the tips and start jotting ideas down for your story.
If the characters are the backbone of a story, then the setting is the blood of the story. It provides the story with filler and it gives the character a place to live and grow. Without a setting, all you have is a character, and where can you go with just a character without having some sort of setting?
Take the time to plan out your setting, from sky to grass, from mountain to sea, from house to skyscraper, but sure to include every detail that you can about your setting. Placing your character(s) there and making them feel at home will be its own project, but as long as you mold the setting around your character, they should fit together nicely!
Next time I’ll be talking about the content of the story, a.k.a. the body of the story. I’ll provide some tips on how to start and finish the story, and how to not lose the climax of it.
Optional: Tell me your new setting and how you came to the conclusion for it!