Visualizing Your Settings

Every story needs a stage, and this stage is what we call the “setting.” It’s more than just the physical location or time where your story takes place. It’s the entire world in which your characters live, breathe and do all their daring deeds. And trust me, it’s as important as choosing the right backdrop for your Oscar acceptance speech. No one wants to thank the academy with a drab wall behind them, right?

What Is a Setting in Writing?

In writing, the setting is the time, place and social environment in which your story unfolds. It’s not only a geographical spot but also your story’s cultural, historical and social backdrop. It can be as broad as a galaxy far, far away, or as intimate as a teenager’s cluttered bedroom.

How to Determine Your Setting

Deducing your setting is like being a detective of details. Ask yourself, where does the story happen? When does it happen? What’s the social and cultural milieu? Remember, your setting should support and enhance your story, not distract from it.

Why the Setting Matters So Much

Think of your setting as the secret sauce that gives your story its flavor. It’s the canvas on which your plot paints its strokes, the one throwing confetti during your character’s triumph and the one pulling the dark clouds during their struggles. Without a good setting, your story risks feeling like a leaf floating in a void—don’t let that happen!

Tips for Visualizing Your Setting

  • Tip 1: Use vivid, sensory details. Make your reader see, hear, smell, touch and taste your world.
  • Tip 2: Don’t info-dump. Naturally weave your setting into the story.
  • Tip 3: Make your setting relevant to the plot and character development.
  • Tip 4: Consider using real places for inspiration.

Example of a Good Setting

If you listen to audiobooks, then you know examples of authors creating good settings because you can close your eyes and see every inch of the space in your mind.

Consider this paragraph: “The town of Lakefield was a quaint spectacle of charm with its cobblestone streets leading down to an azure lake. The warm scent of cinnamon from Mrs. Barker’s bakery hugged the air, while the laughter of kids echoed off the lake, making it feel alive. The tall oak trees stood like silent sentinels, their leaves rustling and echoing through the perfect white-picket fenced houses.”

If someone asked you to sketch what Lakefield looks like, could you? You’re darn right you could!

Crafting the perfect setting is akin to setting the perfect stage for your story to unfold. It immerses your reader into your narrative world and makes your story resonate deeper.